By Larry Schunk
Having eaten at Moliendo Colombian Café on many occasions, I feel confident in calling it one of the most consistently good restaurants in Cuenca. I can also tell you that it has some of the lowest prices in town.
Moliendo begins serving its $2.50 almuerzo at noon and it’s not a bad idea to be there when the doors open. By 12:45 or 1 p.m., you’ll usually see a sizable crowd milling around on the sidewalk outside, awaiting entry.
Lunch features your choice of pork, beef or chicken – with fish added on Fridays – along with white rice, a salad and vegetables, and a banana for dessert.
Moliendo’s menu is much more extensive, however, than just the fixed-menu fixed-price almuerzo.
There’s an impressive array of Colombian dishes to choose from, since they serve breakfast and dinner in addition to lunch.
The most expensive meal, at $7, is the bandeja paisa, a hearty serving of sausage, ground beef, and fried pork, along with an egg, white rice, and avocado.
Another great dish is the bistec a la criolla, a steak with an arepa (the maize flatbread prominent in Colombian and Venezuelan cuisine, similar to the Salvadoran pupusa) and cheese, two eggs and juice, for $6.50. For the same price, you’ll also find the lomo montañero, a steak that comes with French fries and a salad. Many of the other offerings fall in the $4.50 to $5.50 price range.
Four of us had a substantial dinner recently at Molienda and, throwing in a couple of large Pilsners, the grand total came to only $27.50.
Javier Muñoz is the gracious host and owner, with his wife Jannet Echevería, and he works hard to make all his customers comfortable and see that meals are delivered promptly and with a big smile.
A caution: Because of its popularity, Moliendo is often overflowing and it’s not usual for Javier to ask couples to move to a table for two if they’re seated at a larger one – a reasonable request, though unusual perhaps, in restaurant etiquette, considering it allows more folks to get seated and enjoy a great meal. The large clientele, by the way, is a mix of expats, Cuencanos, and a large contingent of young North American and European backpackers.
If you enjoy your meal, be sure to ring the bell, just inside the front door, on your way out. It’s a Moliendo custom and serves as a resounding “muchas gracias” for Javier and his staff.
As I said at the top, Moliendo won’t disappoint for its consistency; the place has that attribute nailed. It’s always good and I guarantee that you’ll always leave with a full belly, even after the $2.50 almuerzo.
Moliendo Colombian Café: For updated information and a map of their location, see their listing in the directory. Click here.