3 Cheap Vegetarian Options in La Mariscal

I’m not going to lie.  I’m not a full-fledged vegetarian.  That means that when there’s no other option, I suck it up and usually end up settling for chicken and or egg.  I even eat beef or pork when it’s served to me in someone’s home.  Recently in Colombia I had liver on arepas or corn tortillas while at a home in Virjinia.

As time goes on, I continue to like the idea of vegetarianism more and more.    Even though I’m not a fan of labels, for the moment, I’ll loosely consider myself a virtual vegetarian.

The bottom line is that my goal going forward is to focus mostly on a high fruit, high veggie diet.

For the past five nights I’ve bedded down in a huge room with a huge bed, a huge desk, a decent wifi connection, small TV with cable, daily cleaning, and private bath with hot water, for $15 a night.  Besides people occasionally hanging out on benches outside the hostal, the place sits on a side street so it’s actually pretty quiet most of the time.

Less than a five minute walk from where I’m staying are three cheap but healthy food places that I’ve managed to frequent.

I have a personal acronym and mantra that I call CH.  It stands for cheap and healthy.  This is what I’m looking for.

I avoid almost all fast food chains.  I typically find it ugly to see McDonald’s and Burger King in cities across the world as I feel that they’re spreading a negative side of United States culture.

Outside of the US these two fast food chains tend to charge a lot for what I feel is a bad product.  One reason for this is that flesh food is an unnecessary and unhealthy food item.  If you’d like to be enlightened, check out The China Study.

The only fast food joint I can think of that I like is Subway.  What I like about them is that they offer a raw veggie sub which is excellent for someone who’s striving to eat raw foods as often as possible.

From Bangkok to Boston, many big cities in the world have one or more of these chain stores available.

In my five days in Quito I’ve had at least one 15 cm or 5.9 inch raw vegetable sub per day.    For $3.48 you get a choice of four types of bread to sandwich green peppers, jalapeños, lettuce, mushrooms, olives, onions, pickles, tomato, and Swiss or Dutch cheese.  These are the optional toppings.  I always have mustard and salt and pepper added to these at the end.

For these five days I’ve been a regular.  The security guard and I know each other on a first name basis.

While eating my raw veggie sub I think: My body is happy to be getting many different vitamins from food, specifically raw plant food.  I can’t do much better than this.

NOTE: This might be the only time that I ever write something good about a fast food chain.

Subway is located on Reina Victoria right in the heart of La Mariscal and is open until 5am.

My third day here I discovered a place called Crêpes de Paris.  I’ve always been a sucker for crepes and these quintessential French concoctions are at least one-third the price of the ones back home, or in Paris for that matter.

This kitschy little place holds about 12 people intimately across five tables.  The reason I call it kitschy is because the entire back wall is covered in different touristy pictures of Paris.

French music plays non stop.

There are two crepes there that I’ve ordered and absolutely loved.  The first is called Ratatouille and is all veggies.  They’re not raw but aren’t overcooked either.  This veggie medley consists of basil, eggplant, green pepper, olive oil, onion, thyme, tomato, and zucchini.  Like almost everything in this part of the world, cheese is added.  This crepe features the blend of an imported Dutch cheese and the local queso criollo.

This exotic and delicious French-style wrap cost $3.25

The second crepe I tried was with platanos or plantains.  I watched the owner, a Parisian, cut up a whole plantain into very thin slices.  After placing this fruit cousin of the banana into a pan of oil, he added some sugar and a bit of brandy.   Suddenly the entire pan was on fire.

This dessert crepe was absolutely delicious.  It cost $2.75.  For a meager $.50 I was able to compliment the heavenly crepe with a large mug of freshly brewed Ecuadorian coffee.

While eating these exotic crepes I knew that I’d tasted Paris in Quito.

Crêpes de Paris is located on Jose Calama just a one minute walk from Reina Victoria.  It’s open on Tuesdays from 12:30pm until 7:30pm.  Wednesday to Saturday they’re open from 12:30pm until 11:00pm.  The creperia is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

The third place that I liked is eloquently called Big Pizza 1.25.  They had a vegetarian option the three times that I visited.  On top of just a little bit too much mozzarella for my liking, they spread green pepper, onion, red pepper and tomato.  On top of that I shook a healthy dosage of oregano and spicy red pepper flakes to add to the blend.

As the sign above shows, these generously sized slices are only $1.25.

Pizza 1.25 is located almost across the street from Crêpes de Paris just a little bit farther down from Reina Victoria.

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The goal of this post is to let people know that travelling and eating healthily doesn’t have to suck the money supply dry. 🙂

Can you think of any cheap and healthy food that you’ve gotten out: either while at home or away?  Feel free to comment below.

6 responses to this post.

  1. I am looking for a salmon w/quinoa recipe as we speak, which leads me to wonder if you’ve seen any wild quinoa growing during your Andean hiking excursions. It is native to Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru.

    i’m leaning towards either a salmon-quinoa burger recipe or poaching the salmon and adding it to the quinoa w/chopped veggies.


    • SEANTONIO: I know that Quinoa is one of a bunch of foods classified as a super food regarding nutrition. I actually haven’t come across any in my hikes in Colombia. At least I didn’t know if I did and no one pointed any out to me. I don’t think it’s quite as popular in Colombia as in Peru/Bolivia.

      My advice is: Experiment with that dish, it’ll get better every time you make it. Looking at recipes is great for generating ideas. Here I am giving this advice while I have no kitchen. I miss experimenting with healthy and yummy concoctions such as what you’re doing today. G’luck with the dish and don’t forget to take a couple of pics of it. 🙂


  2. Lovely with an appetite! ; )


  3. Posted by Mamma on March 8, 2012 at 18:10

    This post has made me hungry. Now I’m going to cook salmon for dinner!


    • MAMMA: I’m sure the salmon was delicious as usual. I’m now sitting down to a huge salad in a gringo owned restaurant that everyone rants and raves about here in Baños.


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