If you ever find yourself about an hour and a half south of Quito, Ecuador, in the town of Latacunga, at the foot of Cotapaxi Volcano, do yourself a favor and eat at the Best New Orleans restaurant in South America.
Located right on the main plaza, Parque Vincente Leon, in the heart of the city, you will find Mauricio Andrade and his wonderful restaurant, El Gringo y La Gorda.
Mauricio is an Ecuadorian native who spent years in the New Orleans restaurant business, learning the trade from the best of the New Orleans food scene. Like many of the great New Orleans chefs, he started at Commanders Palace. He worked for a number of years as Director of Operations at Emeril’s until Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home in the Uptown area and sent him back to his home country.
We stumbled upon Mauricio and his restaurant by accident and became fast friends. We talked about home, shared photos of New Orleans, and learned about Mauricio’s efforts to jump start the food scene in his new hometown.
El Gringo y La Gorda is decorated in a New Orleans motif with fleur d’lis and artwork depicting Jackson Square, Mardi Gras, and New Orleans Jazz. But the real draw is the food. Mauricio serves fresh local salads, shrimp or roast beef poboys, onion rings, nachos, bread pudding, dump cake, and other New Orleans favorites.
So, if you ever find yourself homesick in Ecuador for some good southern cooking, run as fast as you can to the town of Latacunga and find Mauricio at El Gringo y La Gorda restaurant. He will spend the afternoon with you and will fill your stomach with great food and fill your soul with tales of home.