Health nuts should check their love for veggies at the door before stepping into this cozy Ecuadorian eatery. Nearly every hearty entree on the paper menu here features an exotic meat, running the gamut from fried calamari to goat stew to caldo de pata
("beef feet soup"). Start with an empanada and be pleased at how effortlessly your fork collapses the warm flaky shell and sinks into the gooey, cheesy richness inside.
Restaurant Ecuador has been a veritable one-man show at its Logan Square location since 1985: the Ecuadorian owner greets customers and offers samples of the house specialty, homemade oatmeal milk with passion fruit, a light and comforting beverage sweetened to perfection and lacking the often-saccharine aftertaste of Mexican horchata (rice milk), which it otherwise resembles.
Diner-style tables and a big-screen television give the eatery a pared-down vibe that caters to a neighborhood crowd, although bright, clean tiles and large screen prints of Ecuadorian cityscapes spruce things up a bit. The $9 pica-pollo proved far less stellar than the empanada; I had so much difficulty swallowing the deeply fried chunks of chicken that the conscientious owner approached my table and recommended a different dish for my next visit. Maybe I'll try the guatita, a house favorite of fried tripe sauteed in a special peanut sauce alongside a tidy heap of white rice.
Come in for lunch and dinner specials featured Monday through Friday for $5.99.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: August Evans