A sports bar & grill. Not just a bar or restaurant that happens to have a television in the corner, but a real sports bar where all of these crazed soccer fans can get their fixes on multiple bigscreens while enjoying authentic hamburgesas and pizzas made with mozzarella instead of queso.
A burger joint. Speaking of hamburgesas, I took two bites of the one I bought in Montanita. One to discover how bad it was, and a second to verify that a hamburger–any hamburger–could actually taste that bad. Still, I see locals lined up at tiny kiosks in every town, just waiting to sink their teeth into that thin, grey meat.
A coffee house and/or donut shop. Nescafe or not, it’s impossible to get a cup of coffee first thing in the morning down here. And it’s impossible to get a cup “to go” no matter what time of day. Finding a source for fresh, delicious baked goods to go with it would take all of five minutes.
A coffee bean roaster/seller. I’m told that most of the coffee grown in Ecuador is exported to Columbia for roasting, then must be imported back into the country. I have a friend who bought an industrial coffee roaster back home and tried his hand at this from the states. Apparently there wasn’t much to it. Maybe an exclusive agreement with a local farmer or two would be enough make somebody the Starbucks of Ecuador.
A big hand-held burrito place. Down here, what they call “tortillas” are actually omelets. There is no real Mexican inspired food here at all. Wait, we did find pork tacos in Canoa one afternoon, but not only did they contain at least as much pork fat as actual meat, there was a significant amount of unchewable pork rind in there as well. It was like eating a shredded football.
Gourmet seafood. The raw ingredients are all here, pitched up fresh from the sea daily. Unfortunately, almost every restaurant offers the same basic preparations including ceviche, soup, or simply breaded and pan-fried. A young, aspiring chef, like Diana’s son, might really make a name for himself by offering some unique–or at least unfamiliar–seafood preparations that also make use of the abundant fresh fruits and vegetables here.
Ecuadorian geek squad. Even if your hotel has Internet, there’s about a 1 in 4 chance of being able to access it. Many front desk people don’t even know what a router is, let alone where it’s at or how to reset it. In fact, we had one hotel owner tell us that her hotel did not offer wifi the day after her employee had helped us connect to it. An on-call geek could easily make enough to get by and still have enough money to pay women for sex.
These are just a few fairly obvious ones, right out of the chute. In the case of the restaurant ideas, I suppose there are no guarantees that local palettes automatically appreciate the difference. For example, a young waitress from Quito whose restaurant actually sells organic coffee explained to us that Ecuadorians love their Nescafe because they can make it as strong as they want. Plus, they load it up with so much sugar, it doesn’t matter anyway. But then, I was living in a Seattle suburb when a tiny company called Starbucks first started selling extra strong coffee with things like chocolate, vanilla and caramel in it. It didn’t take long for me to ditch the Folgers.