Boyd, Karina and I had a delicious Sunday lunch at Quito’s newest boutique hotel, the Casa Gangotena.
The converted mansion occupies a choice corner spot on Plaza San Francisco, a cobbled square rich with history stretching back to the days of the Inca. As the Plaza grew in importance, wealthy families erected grand homes around it, the Casa Gangotena acting as the residence for several important political figures of the late nineteenth century, including Presidents and Vice-Presidents. Rebuilt in 1926 following a fire, the building was designated a “heritage property” soon after the capital was nominated as UNESCO’s first World Heritage Site city in 1978.
Beautifully and eclectically appointed, the hotel’s restored interiors feature Art Nouveau and contemporary touches combined with original Neo-Classical architecture. The work was overseen by the architect Pedro Jaramillo, brother of my friend Pancho.
The spacious restaurant on the ground floor offers a modern international take on traditional Andean and coastal ingredients, and our dishes were accompanied by variations on aji, Ecuador’s ubiquitous hot sauce. There was pepa de sambo (with pumpkin seeds and coriander) and another made from tomate de arbol (tomatillo). The spiciest was a Pacific coast aji made from three kinds of chilli pepper and christened pocos amigos (few friends). To drink, a delicious white Rioja from Muga, one of my favourite producers (they have their own cooperage).
After lunch we ventured up to the roof terrace on the third floor which offers the best seats in the house for viewing everyday life on the plaza, and the spires and domes of the Old Town.