If you know the local culture in Cuenca, typical lunch with the familia involves $3.50 roasted pig over enormous corn served on plastic picnic tables. International Living magazine always boasts the $2 almuerzos. However if you want to go out for fine dining, Cuenca has you covered too. There is Italian, Thai, Japanese, Spanish, Argentine, and of course American. These are my personal favorites – just a small sampling of what is available:
Parrilla de Hector
Parrilla del Hector is an upscale Argentine grill restaurant where Ecuadorean families go for special occasions and dates. The Parilla de Hector is located up on the hill towards Turi, with spectacular views of the city at night. You can drop by, get a huge table, and order a parrilla (mixed barbecue) that serves ten! Or, you can sit at a candle-lit table for two near the window. While I find the grilled intestines and kidneys unappealing, their steak is the best I have had in Cuenca, hands down for $17. I have been here twice.
Venture outside Cuenca’s historical center and try Salvia – a gourmet British/European restaurant tucked into a residencial neighborhood near Supermaxi El Vergel. The menu changes monthly, giving you all the more reason to go back. For $10 a plate, you get quality, presentation, and service that would easily cost $25 in the US.
This is the one place I have insisted on taking all friends and family who visit me in Cuenca (now five people). For $25-$30, you get an enormous disco or disk-casserole filled steak, chicken, or mixed seafood doused in cream and wine. Each disco is advertised as enough food for 2 people, but I find it rather easy to split among three. The food is typical of rural Argentina. I have never been to Argentina, but I have never seen this type of food anywhere else in the United States or my travels around South America.
Am I missing out on another great restaurant? What is your favorite fine dining place in Cuenca? Let us know in comments!