Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Cuenca, Ecuador

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This is a guest post by Ayngelina Brogan from one of our favourite travel blogs Bacon is Magic. We didn’t make it to Ecuador so there’s a gap in our vegetarian survival guide series – Ayngelina helps out with this guide to eating in Cuenca.

Some may think it’s odd that some chick with the web site Bacon is Magic would be writing a post about the best places to find vegetarian food but the truth is that even a pork lover’s arteries need a bit of a break.

I have frequented many vegetarian restaurants throughout Latin America and have found some to be amazing and others dismal. In Cuenca, Ecuador many vegans and vegetarians had difficulty eating out, but it was only because they weren’t heading to the right places:

1) El Paraiso

El Paraiso is a local success story. Once a single restaurant shop, they have opened in two other locations around the city. This is a no-frills, order at the cash and then sit down kind of place that is packed from 12-2pm.

The most interesting thing is that almost none of the patrons are vegetarian, they are simply locals who think the food is really good and everything is less than two bucks.

My pick for El Paraiso is the lentil burger, huge plate of salad and fresh fruit juice for $1.70. If you have any room left they have famous fruit salads that are large enough for two people.

El Paraiso is located on the corner of Simon Bolivar and Manuel Vega.

Veggie Burger at El Paraiso, Cuenca, Ecuador

Veggie Burger at El Paraiso

2) Govinda’s Vegetariano

The Hare Krishnas are everywhere and that’s good for vegetarians. Like many other cities in Latin America they have opened a vegetarian restaurant in Cuenca. I was a bit suspicious after a disgusting gluten steak at a Govinda’s in Cali but wanted to keep an open mind.

A bit more expensive than El Paraiso, Govinda’s has a cheap set lunch and menu items for $2-3. Curry isn’t something you see normally in Ecuador so I jumped at the chance to eat the vegetarian version and it was pretty good (see top photo).

Govinda’s is located at Juan Jaramillo 7-27 and Borrero.

3) Cafe Austria

Cafe Austria, Cuenca, Ecuador

Cafe Austria

Run by a foreigner, this is not a strictly vegetarian restaurant and is very popular with tourists and local expats who want to eat international food. But familiarity of home comes at a cost as the items are often 2-3 times as expensive as El Paraiso. That said, if you want to head to a restaurant where a lot of English is spoken and you can find vegetarian options this is the place to be.

Cafe Austria is located at Benigno Malo 5-95 and Juan Jaramillo.

Ecuadorians love to eat meat but are very accommodating to vegetarian needs. If you head to a restaurant that doesn’t have what you want on the menu just ask and they’ll be happy to put together a plate with beans. Also don’t forget about the popular locro soup which is vegetarian but not vegan.


Ayngelina left a great job, boyfriend, apartment and friends to look for inspiration in Latin America. You can read about her journey on Bacon is Magic or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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21 Comments (2 pingbacks)

  1. Wow, that veggie burger sure looks tasty. I am sure they have good breads over there, and a lot of organic food, or at least close :). I am not a vegetarian but I love the light stomach feeling you get after eating a veggie meal. That salad in the back sent me drooling. These are cool places, thanks for the tips!

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  2. We’ve been reading quite a few posts on Cuenca recently and thought that it sounded like a really nice place, and after reading this post, we are 100 % convinced that we’ll love it!!

    Thanks Ayngelina for these awesome tips – El Paraiso sounds fabulous, we’ll probably end up eating there every day :-)

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  3. Ecuador is, aside the weather, one of the best and safest places to visit in latin america, and food is not expensive either.

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  4. Our favorite is Good Affinity..
    .Good Affinity Restaurant Vegetariano Cafe and Tea House
    Gran Colombia 1-89 y Capulies; Telephone: 07-283-2469.

    Only open for lunch, they are always busy, and the ambiance outside is very nice. We have never had bad food there, the price for the daily lunch is incredible for what you get. Try it!

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  5. Ecuador is duking it out with a small handful of other countries for the top of my Next Place To Go list. Looking forward to checking these places out when I get there!

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    • What a coincidence! I just arrived to Cuenca today and found El Paraiso. I was so shocked by the prices, it’s the cheapest veg restaurant I’ve ever been to. I couldn’t believe the size of the set lunch for $1.70… and an 80 cent veggie hamburger? I think we’ll be eating there every day – though now I’ll have to look for Govindas :)

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  6. Great info! Ecuador is one of my favorite countries and I can’t wait to get back there. When I do, I’ll be sure to check these out! ;-)

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  7. Don’t know if I ever visit these places, but enjoyed reading it. Have stacked the info away as my vegetarian husband will need this if we ever go to these places. :)

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