Santa Anita Park Photo By Cuenca Es Tu Trip

Foodie Follow-up: 7 More El Vergel Restaurant Highlights

Welcome back to our cavalcade of cuisines. This article is a follow-up to another that was published recently called The “Secret” Cuenca Park Surrounded By Sensational Restaurants. That one covered almost all the establishments located at Parque Santa Anita in the El Vergel neighborhood. If you don’t get over there soon, be on the alert for the comida committee’s goons to sweep in and relieve you of your Foodie Card. Then you’ll be sorry.

3 More at Park Santa Anita Itself

Below find 3 restaurants that I omitted from the first article. I have persuaded myself to include them here because you are all grown-ups and deserve to make your own decisions. I will say no more. All offer indoor and outdoor seating like most others at the park.

Club Del Queso

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I have eaten there several times and found hip and trendy decor to be matched by an Interesting selection of menu items including many imported meats, cheeses, and wines. The menu prices are on the higher end. Cheese and wine lovers adore it. Friends have found the service to be excellent.

Where to find El Club del Queso

Humor Libre

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They are a relatively new addition to the park as far as I can tell. And there is very little indication of what makes them different from lots of other places nor an indication of the type of food they serve. The best guess from the photos is Nouveau Ecuadorian.

The food photos on their Google Business Profile and brand new Facebook page look appealing so let’s give them a try! Looks like they feature some food and cocktails too. Check out the Christmas menus on FB at $16.50 and $18.50 respectively that look pretty darn tasty. There is no menu on their FB page or anywhere online which is a pet peeve of mine. Some places just haven’t figured out that customers want to see a menu before committing time and money.

Where to find Humor Libre

El Milagrito: Torteria y Cerveceria

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This is a Mexican place that appears to specialize in Mexican tapas and snacky items like totopos, guacamole sandwiches (tortas in Mexican Spanish), desserts, plus a vegetarian section. There are lots of items under $5. Also, Mexican beers and fancy-looking cocktails.

Where to find El Milagrito

Group 2: 4 More Great Places 

Group 2 includes excellent choices just a few blocks away from the park but is by no means a comprehensive listing of all the good places to eat in the neighborhood. 

Cevicheria Guayaca (Cuenca)

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Here is the description shared by the restaurant: “With the premise of offering the best ceviche in Ecuador and a variety of fresh seafood, we started this gastronomic experience in which we fuse the most important of the land, the sea, and the people, resulting in those delicacies that captivate us and feed us with love. We invite you to experience a unique journey to the true flavors of our culture with a nod to Peruvian gastronomy.”

Their top 2 sellers:

  • Rompe colchón: Ceviche of mixed seafood, marinated fish, squid, shrimp, octopus, tomato concasse, served with avocado, topped with crab and black shell.
  • Chop suey perucho: Peruvian chaufa rice, seafood popcorn, and Peruvian fish ceviche.

I celebrated my last birthday with friends at Cuenca’s franchise of this Guayaquil landmark, seafood restaurant. The seafood is super fresh. And the menu makes creative use of it (far more so than a typical marisqueria or ceviche joint.) The service is friendly and extraordinarily efficient for Cuenca. The indoor-covered seating and the nautical feel of the place inside and out make for a very pleasant oasis to eat, drink, and watch the world go by.

Cevicheria Indoor

I could eat here for a month and enjoy something different every day. But I might have to take out a small personal loan on the “spendy” side. Regardless of expense, I recommend it to everybody. It is the best seafood I have found in Cuenca and compares favorably to its counterparts on the Ecuadorian (or US) coasts.

The corporate locations in Guayaquil have a website with photos that give you an idea of the splendid variety of ceviches with crab, shrimp, clams, mussels, langostino, calamari, and other remarkable presentations of those ingredients. 

The Cuenca franchise, open for about 9 months, is only a few blocks from Parque Santa Anita at Francisco Moscoso y Miguel Cordero Davila. 

Cevicheria Entrance

I was a bit challenged to write this section because the Cuenca location has no online presence except its Google Maps Business page. No Facebook (of value), no website, no Instagram. The corporate site doesn’t even list this franchise. Fortunately, one of their team responded to my WhatsApp just in time to make this article’s deadline including additional information and the photos below.

Regardless, given its growing reputation and the exceptional dining experience judging by the happy look on patrons’ faces, it appears the partners invested in the right things – except for the little part about telling Cuenca who they are. But the place is usually busy, especially at lunchtime, so they must be succeeding so far by word of mouth.

Where to find La Cevicheria Guayaca

I recommend you call or message them for hours because they are not in evidence anywhere except on their fence. Whatsapp +593985818905

La Pizza de Juanja

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You pass La Pizza de Juanja as you walk down Rafael Torres Beltran on your way to the park. Some say it serves the best pizza in Cuenca and I think a strong case could be made for that. It is certainly in my top 2 list. For starters, their crust is spectacularly thin and crispy and their toppings are ultra-fresh. They also serve dessert, coffee, and ice cream. One ice cream flavor called “Crack” is amazing enough to cause many of us to return often, as the name implies. There is also a lovely garden style or indoor seating. Try it. You’ll like it.

Where to find La Pizza de Juanja

La Tapita Española Restaurante

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The family-owned and operated, La Tapita Española, is located just a few blocks from Parque Santa Anita and is a recent and distinctive addition to the increasingly cosmopolitan El Vergel dining scene. It is fair to say that the food is reasonably priced, authentic, and delicious with a heavy emphasis on seafood. All the tapas we have tried are very good. I especially like las Croquetas de Jamón y Queso and the camarón al ajillo drowned in melted butter and garlic served with bread to soak up the excess sauce.

One of my favorite things is the Paella which is available at lunchtime “on demand”. Some paella restaurants require you to order the day prior because paella can be a bit tricky because it requires very freshly purchased ingredients that deteriorate quickly. But ordering Paella here just means you should be prepared to wait 35 minutes. In the meantime gorge yourself on some outstanding tapas. 

At lunchtime, La Tapita has it ready to serve upon request and at a lunch portion price of both marisco (seafood) and mixta (seafood and meat proteins) varieties. And at $22, even the 2 person dinner-sized Paella entrees are an economical choice. Outside of lunchtime, paella orders require about 35 minutes to prepare.

My several visits have occurred with groups of 6 to 8 people all of whom have thoroughly enjoyed their lunch entrees. Table service can be pretty frantic so my hope is they will work that out soon.

As to the menu, I strongly recommend you ask for more thorough descriptions. I see all sorts of wonderful-looking platters being served which I can’t match back to the menu. And I am pretty sure I am missing out on some gems. For example, a big joint of cured, Spanish ham is sitting on the counter that the owner, Jorge, periodically carves from. I don’t know what other delight he is serving it with but I definitely want some of it.

Where to find La Tapita Española

Thai Lotus Restaurant

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The newly opened Thai Lotus serves up authentic Thai cuisine prepared by Chef Dao. Growing up in Thailand, Dao owned and operated a successful restaurant there for over 10 years. 

According to husband and partner, Randy Browning, she has the experience and background to offer a culinary experience that equals the finest food that her country has to offer. Many ingredients are imported to preserve the traditional flavors of Thai food.

Thai Outdoor Area 2

The menu features 50 dishes that vary from mild to spicy. The most popular dishes are Pad Thai, Massuman Curry, and Fried Rice in Pineapple. Appetizers are also very popular, including corn cakes and spring rolls.

Thai Lotus also exhibits arts and crafts from Thailand, giving diners a unique cultural experience. Indoor and outdoor dining is available in our beautiful garden, and it is pet-friendly.

I am a big fan of this place based on the quality of food Dao serves and the variety of choices. It reminds me of some of the best Thai restaurants in Chicago where I come from. And it is hands down the best Thai food in Cuenca.

Thai Lotus is located in the El Vergel neighborhood on Paucarbamba 4-114 in the space where the Indian restaurant Barbecue Palace used to be.

Where to find Thai Lotus


So, there you have it. 3 more places on the park that complete the roundup from the original article plus 4 strong recommendations a little farther afield yet still in El Vergel. It would be great to hear from others of you about your favorites in El Vergel because there certainly are a lot more to choose from. At the rate new restaurants are springing up, it will be time to publish additional reviews about them soon. Enjoy!

One Response

  1. I thought I saw in a Facebook Cuenca group that Club Del Queso has closed. Perhaps another Queso restaurant?
    I totally agree with you about La Pizza de Juanja. Their pies are incredible. I would like to know your other in the favorite list. Also, sharing space with La Craft right next door, you can combine the two.
    We recently tried Thai Lotus. The pad Thai was excellent.

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