Parades and celebrations fill the streets of Saraguro, Ecuador in the week leading up to its Independence Day on March 10. It’s a great time to visit this Andean town that’s just one and a half hours north of Loja and just 90 miles (140 km) from the city of Cuenca. By pure travel luck, we found ourselves in Saraguro in the midst of their Independence Day festival where the area’s living indigenous culture was proudly on display. Here’s what the celebrations looked like (plus a must-visit restaurant right on the main plaza).
Where to eat in Saraguro
We did not expect to find remarkable food in Saraguro, Ecuador. Then we walked into Shamuico Espai Gastronomic run by local chef Samuel Ortega. Ortega moved to Spain with his family when he was 12 and honed his kitchen skills in Europe including time working at Il Bulli.
When Ortega was 24 he returned to Saraguro and opened his own place in a 160-year-old building on the square that he restored with his architect sister. Ortega told us that 90% of the ingredients he uses come from the rich agricultural area around Saraguro or from his own small kitchen garden. His sometimes unorthodox needs have even inspired local farmers to experiment with different crops. Grab a table inside a modern dining room with skylights and a view into the open kitchen or outdoors in the traditional central courtyard and enjoy drinks, snacks, or polished full plates at incredibly reasonable prices. We did.
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Here’s more about Festivals & Celebrations in the Americas
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