Make a reservation for what is arguably Quito’s best fine-dining experience at Zazu, a modern bistro where the elegant décor extends to a massive, cylinder-shaped wine cellar with giant glass doors. Peruvian chef Rafael Peréz fuses innovative ingredient pairings with artistic presentations in dishes like wild mushroom ceviche ($9) and stone crab cannelloni in saffron-coconut emulsion ($27).
Grab a seat on the outdoor patio of El Esmeraldas, a casual lunch-only spot specializing in the northern coast’s Afro-Ecuadorian cuisine, which is heavy on peanuts, coconuts, and shellfish. Order staple fare like encocados (from $7.50), creamy seafood stews made with coconut milk, or bolones (from $2.50), balls made of mashed and fried plantains that are filled with cheese, shrimp, or pork.
Dine in style at Theatrum Restaurant & Wine Bar, a celebrated restaurant with a tuxedo-clad staff and towering red curtains that give the dining room a stagelike feel. Peruvian-born chef Julio Jose Avendaño uses local produce in his contemporary New Andean–Mediterranean menu that includes plates like grilled octopus with foie gras butter and 25-year-old Balsamic vinegar ($16). A five-course seasonal tasting menu usually tops out at $50.