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Expat Life

Expat landmark Inca Lounge and Bistro lives up to its reputation

Remember that DVD that came out three or four years ago: “Live or Retire Overseas – Cuenca, Ecuador”? If not, you can borrow my copy.

It was a locally-made video featuring interviews with a number of expats sharing their experiences of living in Cuenca. One segment of that video was an interview of the two owners of the Inca Lounge. Open since 2008, they bragged about the excellence of their hamburgers. “The best in town,” they said.

Best burgers in town?

Last Saturday, Jackie and I and our friend Bob checked it out, to see if it lived up to its hype. We were not disappointed. I tried their mushroom burger, and it was excellent!  (I’m not going to say it was the best in town, for fear of getting mugged by McDonald’s lovers, or others who have a favorite burger place. But it was damn good.) It (the burger, not Jackie) was big and juicy and tasty (well, she’s pretty tasty too), and came with a pile of their home-made potato chips. Also had a good gin and tonic.

Paseo Tres de Noviembre becames a sidewalk at Inca.

Jackie had their huge Vegetarian Burrito Supreme and a glass of maracuya juice. Bob dove into a Mexican Salad with margaritas. Both those dinners were delicious and came in generous portions. Inca serves lunch, dinner, and late-night drinks.

Inca Lounge is in an old two-story white building right on the banks of the Tomebamba River. Go to the south end of Luis Cordero where it runs into Calle Larga, then take the long staircase down to the river. This is actually my favorite staircase around here because of the interesting and artistic graffiti on the way down. The stairs end at Paseo 3 de Noviembre. Turn right and walk a block west and there you are!

The main bar and lounge is up a steep but short flight of stairs which opens to a comfortable seating area with a big-screen TV, usually showing soccer, but which also shows American football during the appropriate season.  There are small tables with comfortable sofas and chairs. There is a well-stocked bar with eight kinds of beer, fronted by several stools.

Upstairs, inside the bar.

The waitress was friendly and attentive, and spoke sufficient English to take our orders accurately.

After placing our orders, we moved downstairs, where there is a covered, open air patio with several fire tables that kept us toasty into the evening. It was very romantic sitting by the fire, listening to the river right outside, enjoying a good meal with drinks and conversation with good friends.

Although the old video touted the place as a major gringo hangout, we found that the clientele was mostly Ecuadorian, with a few expats sprinkled in. This was a very comfortable, cozy place with some aging atmosphere. It felt right.

Prices are moderate, VISA and Mastercards accepted. The upstairs is not disabled accessible, but the downstairs porch is. Both the service and food quality were very good. Recommended.
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Inca Lounge and Bistro, Paseo Tres de Noviembre, two doors east of Benigno Malo, Hours: Tues: 11 am to 11 pm;  Wed. & Thurs.  11 a.m. to midnight;  Fri. & Sat. 11 am to 2 am; Sun. 11 am to 5 pm. Closed Monday.