The last time I wrote about what to do when there are rain clouds hanging on the horizon and you have only one day to spend in Vilcabamba and only a moment of the sun. So you come back from the morning trip and the rain starts flooding the world. What to do? How to live?
1. Eat a lunch.
It seems that you can eat everywhere but not every place offers such a variety of culinary experience as Vilcabamba. Because of a very active expat community, you can taste here very diverse cuisine. Starting with a cult place – Charlito’s, run by Charlie, an American from Virginia. Some time ago I went to the waterfall with a French girl. After the trip we went to Charlito’s because, as she’d told me, “they have the best burrito in Ecuador”. I’m not sure if it is the best, because I lack the comparison, but it’s definitely very good – as well as pizza and burgers. And beer but about it, later.
La Esquina,which was recently renovated, offers typical Ecuadorian cuisine. Normally it’s not the most interesting food in the world, but this restaurant makes the best of it. Also, 3$ for getting to know the local food in two-course lunch is not much.
When the previous president of Ecuador Rafael Correa (it’s better not to mention this name, though – the opinions about him are very radical and many people just hate him) visited Vilcabamba, he dined in United Falafel Organization. The restaurant itself was established to finance two health centers for poor in Panama and Brazil created by a Syrian millionaire who lives in Dubai and has also Brazilian citizenship. 50% of the income goes to this purpose. Of course the flagship dish is the falafel. You can also eat there the quality kebab and homemade hummus but my personal favourite is grilled halloumi cheese. The food is prepared under the direction of a Turk called Iskandar – he prepares also the products, including the cheese I’ve mentioned. Furthermore, they serve delicious cakes in huge pieces (for me too big for a dessert – but of course you can share it). The only downside are prices which are usually about 5$-8$ which is quite expensive for Ecuador – but you know what you pay for – all the ingredients are organic.
Actually, I could write about every restaurant in Vilcabamba. I’m just going to mention Agave Blu, a Mexican restaurant run by Julio and Irazu. Very good food, although the prices are within the medium-high range. But this guacamole!
Next, La Casetta. A wonderful pizza with the best crust in Vilcabamba. It’s hard to believe it’s made by Argentinians, not by Italians. The only downside – it’s vegetarian. I miss some prosciutto or serrano on it.
The honourable mention for Natural Yoghurt – good prices but this place is only for patient people because everything is freshly prepared. Good crepes. Then, there is a small no-name place next to Charlito’s with its delicious Argentinian style empanadas with chicken, meat, mozzarella and herbs or even sweet ones with apples and cinnamon. None of them costs more than a dollar, although you need at least three to be full.
2. Drink a beer.
I don’t encourage drinking alcohol. Not so long ago, the situation in Ecuador was rather sad – one company had a monopoly on brewing. Specifically on import of hops what completely blocked the development of brewing. Few years ago it changed and now there are over two hundred craft breweries in Ecuador. Many of them are owned by expats. In Viclabamba alone there are already three and fourth is going to open soon.
Although only one exceeds the sale in its own local – Sol del Venado. The name comes from the colours of the setting sun on the mountains surrounding Vilcabamba. The labels are also related to this. The fresh water in the mountains and self-malted barley – most of Ecuadorian brewers buy already pre-malted one to reduce the cost and the amount of work. Sol del Venado doesn’t have its own local but that’s the plan. Every weekend, though, in San Pedro de Vilcabamba, right next to the brewery the delicious BBQ ribs and wings are sold with the beer. Also, it’s possible to buy it in many local stores and pubs – including the mentioned before Charlito’s.
Also the Hosteria Izhcayluma brews its own beer. German beer. By the way, the hotel seems to be a nice place and in price there are morning yoga lessons included. I don’t know it well because it’s outside of the town and it was never on my way. They have also good cocktails, pool table, dart, and board games.
At the end a place that will allow me to fluently switch to the next topic. Donde Bava. Few styles of beer (good wheat beer). They have an interesting promo deal – for 5$ two slices of pizza and a glass of beer. In the menu also delicious sausages and mozzarella sticks. And every weekend you can go there to…
3. Listen to the live music.
In fact, I went to Donde Bava the first time for the music. I was told by two Argentinian girls, the duo called Somos Tangueras (tanguero is a musician who plays tango), that I heard playing at the terrace of a restaurant in the center, about their concert there. I went there and even recorded a bit, although half of the videos have too loud vocal, the other half too loud instrument. Malena plays the bandoneon and Xiomara sings. Besides tango, they have in their repertuar some other music, mostly Argentinian but Mexican La bamba or Cuban Guantanamera made their way to it as well. The last time I went to Donde Bava, I came across another concert, even though Facebook shows me the info about all of them the next day in the morning. It was also nice.
Another place where you can see musicians is Timothy’s. Besides the music, they have there good burgers and interesting selection of beers from all Ecuador and more.
Sometimes there is live music in Breiky’s Bar, a local club, too. Sometimes a DJ, sometimes a band. Not really my ambiance but it’s a proper place to have fun on Saturday dancing salsa, rock or reggaeton (that’s why it’s not really for me).
Every Thursday in Inza Coffee a musician George Page performs. I should finally go and see him, because I’ve never made it to his performance and it sounds interesting.
Also, you can meet many street musicians, mostly travelling, on the main square of Vilcabamba. The last time I’ve seen some drummers…
And for the dessert…
The last but not least, I’m going to mention Beverly Hills, a café where I am sitting and writing this text. Organic coffee and tasty cakes for a good price. Also they have chocolate, organic, as well. I could write and write, there are many more places left… The best will be if you come and see it youself. I could recommend you something more.