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For a traditional Ecuadorian dining experience, check out El Maiz Restaurante on Calle Larga

We were with a small group of newcomers to Cuenca and wanted to give them a taste of traditional Ecuadorian food, so we all went to El Maiz, one of our favorites.

El Maiz is in a bright yellow house on Calle Larga, right on the corner of Calle de Los Molinos, a short walk from Museo Pumapungo and with parking for a couple of cars in front. It has ample indoor seating for couples and groups, plus a romantic covered patio outside. We were there on a cool evening, so chose to sit inside. The décor is very tastefully done, giving one the feeling of being in a traditional hacienda of a wealthy landowner. Really quite lovely.

We were surprised to be the only customers there on a Saturday evening.

EL Miaz is on Calle Larga, two blocks west of the Museo Pumapungo.

The service was professional and excellent. Although our first waitress spoke no English, she early on figured out as we were stumbling through the menu that we needed either translation help or more wine, and brought out the English menu, which was greatly appreciated.  As was the wine.

El Maiz specializes in traditional Ecuadorian food and does so very well indeed. I ordered the Camarones al ajillo ($10.83), shrimp in a garlic sauce that came with a small green salad, the obligatory scoop of rice, and two patacones (flattened plantain rounds fried in oil). The shrimp were very good, with the sauce being a bit picante, a pleasant change from the usually somewhat bland seasoning found in this dish.

The fare at El Maiz is Ecuadorian comida tipica.

But the taste treat of the evening was Jackie’s Seco de Chivo, or goat ($9.60). I got a taste, and it was very, very tender, like a pot roast that had been in the slow cooker all day, served with a delicious gravy. Next time, that’s what I’ll order.

Towards the end of the evening, we had a different waiter, who spoke some English and very helpfully ordered some taxis for us (there were seven of us, going in four different directions.)

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El Maiz Restaurante, Calle Large 1-279 y Calle de Los Molinos; Hours: Monday to Saturday, noon to 9 p.m.; closed Sunday; Credit cards acceptedReviewer’s comments: English menu available. Excellent service and décor, traditional Ecuadorian food, somewhat expensive, Disabled accessible. Recommended.