Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The best breakfast in Ecuador?: El Cafe de la Vaca

“The best breakfast in Ecuador!” Well, that's what I was promised at El Cafe de la Vaca, but is this dairy-cum-restaurant the cream of the crop?

El Cafe de la Vaca, Ecuador
El Cafe de la Vaca
El Cafe de la Vaca (Coffee of the Cow) is an isolated little restaurant on the Pan American highway, south of Quito. Conveniently it's just the right side of the toll road to Ambato, if you're driving down from the capital.

This is a working dairy and, hammering home the fact, you even walk through the milking room to enter the restaurant.

Breakfasts are its specialty and well-renowned. So much so that between 8am-10am you can struggle to find a table – lengthy queues aren't unknown. Fortunately, by the time we'd arrived at 11:30am for brunch, we had the place to ourselves.

I plumped for Desayuno de la Vaca – a veritable breakfast banquet that requires the stomach of a cow to finish in its entirety.

For $11 (USD) you get coffee, fresh juice, croissant, bread, biscocho (savoury biscuit), nata (clotted cream), blackberry jam, fresh white cheese, and my personal highlight huevos a la cazuela - a piping hot casserole of eggs, cheese, tomato topped with strips of ham.

If you're feeling brave, the restaurant serves glasses of house (read unpasteurised) cow's milk, freshly teased from the udders of the local herd.

Also on the menu are hamburgers, omelettes, trout, locros (potato soups) and salads.

The building is nicely finished with wooden beams and its cartoon cow logo is plastered, painted, printed and stitched on every available surface.

El Cafe de la Vaca, Ecuador
Colourful, cutesy cows abound
Service is snappy, but why rush when the views from the window are so stunning? The restaurant is nestled between the volcanoes Illiniza (to the front) or Ruminawi (to the rear) and there's even a paddock of horses to complete the postcard panorama.

Travel-weary children trekking reluctantly along the Pan American highway might enjoy a restorative rumpus in the playground, complete with zip-wire.

I was promised the best breakfast in Ecuador and El Cafe de la Vaca duly delivered.

El Cafe de la Vaca, restaurante, Ecuador
Panorama of El Cafe de la Vaca and a spookily empty Pan American Highway
I visited the original restaurant (Machachi) but its popularity has seen sister sites open on the Pan American north of Quito at Cayambe and the San Luis shopping centre.

For more information click here or call: 022-315-012

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