Friday, August 06, 2010

July 10th - Red Hot Chili Peppers - Quito, Ecuador - Gringo Mexican

Nachos at Red Hot Chili Peppers
We landed in a downpour in Quito from the Galapagos.  We tried to make the best of it and visited the amazing Quito Museum in the large mirrored Banco Central building.  The Banco Central houses a theatre and the Music Museum as well.  You NEED to know that despite what the guide books say, the Museums are closed on Mondays. We made that mistake on the front end of our trip.  We only saw the Quito Museum for about half an hour as we spent too much time watching the World Cup.... or at least one of us did. Anyhoo, it was a beautiful museum and the layout was fantastic.  The entrance is only 2$ but as we only had about half an hour they let us in for free.  We decided we'd have to come back if we could.  The first room is a historic timeline with artifacts of Ecuador from the Paleolithic era.  Very informative.

We spent the rest of the day walking about town when we could but we eventually had to find refuge in the hotel from the hailstorm.  We were staying the modest with character Hotel Cartuja in what appeared to be an embassy district.  Well, many of the old colonial houses were maintained and converted.  There were some occupied by hotels, embassies and music associations.  Ours used to be the British consulate.  It is very reasonably priced and the staff are IMMENSELY helpful. We ran into confusion on our booking via our agent but they helped even the night we arrived at 1am.  Their English is fair. There is a pleasant courtyard and most rooms face the courtyard.  Breakfast is included.  It is a short walking distance from the Mariscal aka Gringolandia and across the road from the Banco Central building.

Pitcher of Margueritas at Red Hot Chili Peppers
 We went for dinner in the Mariscal.  I know the guidebooks advise you to be very careful and that is probably a safe thing at all times.  I think this depends on your travel profile and so it is generally safer for novice travellers or young partiers to be careful in that area.  I have been in countries where it is safer to not appear lost or vulnerable.  I did not feel this in the Mariscal.  That said, we were not in there partying very late.  It does get dark by 6pm year round because of it's position on the equator. We were normally going for dinner around 7-8, which is on the late side for locals.  You might want to go for 6.  We were usually back at the hotel for 10 since we always had plans starting early the next day.  I felt safe, even when we popped out at 11 in search of Diet Coke.

Tonight, we went to Red Hot Chili Peppers mexican restaurant.  Funny, when we found it was on the corner with 2 other Mexican restuarants.  RHC is listed in a couple of travel books and probably saw a fair bit of traffic as a result. I am guessing someone else so an opportunity to meet any unsatified Mexican food demand :)  The one next door had an unfortunate bloke dressed as a matador and a cape luring people in .  He almost got me but D insisted we stick to the plan.

Sizzling Beef Fajitas at Red Hot Chili Peppers
It is a funky, dark, bohemian-esque place.  There was a wall covered in messages and graffiti and another flat screen TV playing local futbol.  There wasn't a Mexican in site but that isn't surprising as it ws the same in the Chifas (Chinese restaurants).  There are surprisingly few visible minorities in Ecuador. The food was good and served piping hot but I would put it on the Gringo scale of authenticity. 

We started with Nachos and pitcher of Margueritas.  The Nachos were piled high with toppings but they were all canned. The Guacamole was good but could have been more seasoned or garlicky.  The Cheese was abundant and a nice Black Bean puree on the bottom.  D was surprised I wanted the nachos as I am not big on big starters but I was sooo hungry after all that walking. 

Fajita Sides at Red Hot Chili Peppers
 The Margueritas were pretty good.  They were blended, I suspect from a mix as well, they were not terribly strong.  I after polishing off nearly the whole large pitcher between us, I could have walked a tight rope. 

Wrapped Fajitas at Red Hot Chili Peppers
 We both had Fajitas, I the Roasted Veg and D the Beef.  The sizzling skillets came heaped to the table with the sides of Guacamole, Black Bean puree, Rice and Cheese.  The Tortillas sitting in a little warmer basket were handmade and fresh.  The Rice and Cheese were very 'tacobell'.  The sizzling veg were great though, as always with Fajitas, there were too many Onions. They beat us both. 

Vegetarian Fajitas at Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tortilla Holder in the Back

It was par for the coarse on cost for the area; higher than the local joints but cheaper than the poshier places.  Quito is generally less expensive than Galapagos.  Remember, places automatically charge you 10% Service and 12% Tax.  As well, you should check whether a restaurant will charge you 10% for using a credit card.  The majority will.

Cost: $$
Ambience: Bohemian cafe
Staff: Friendly in a dark mysterious way

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Foch 713
La Mariscal
Quito, Ecuado

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