With its historic centre, imposing landmarks, and lively, young vibe, we just love Quito. And it’s especially popular with and oriented towards backpackers, with plenty of inexpensive accommodation and eating options. One of the best, most colourful, and least touristic is the Mercado Central.
Outside the market building is relatively modern-looking, while inside you’ll discover a cheerful cacophony amid which all manner of products and traditional Ecuadoran foods are sold on several floors. Here’s a stand selling guatita (beef-tripe stew) and chanfaina (another kind of stew featuring pork and internal organs) for two dollars a plate, there’s a juice stand with fresh-squeezed sour orange just 50 cents a cup.
The market is located on central Avenida Pichincha, right downhill from Quito’s historic centre, so you can combine some sightseeing on foot with a pit stop before or after. From here you can go to the Plaza del Teatro and watch the comings and goings of the locals, or keep going a few more blocks to the enormous neo-Gothic Basílica del Voto Nacional, built in 1884. Climbing its bell tower affords one of the city’s best views (and photo ops to post on Instagram and your other networks).
Photo | Marita Acosta