By Sylvan Hardy
You can’t miss it if you’re heading south down Benigno Malo to the bridge that crosses the Rio Tomebamba. It’s on the left, on your way to New Town, with two sidewalk tables under big white umbrellas out front.
On a sunny afternoon, earlier in the week, one table was occupied by three ladies eating sandwiches and nursing Pilsener grandes. At the other were two university students, papers spread out in front of them, drinking cappuccinos.
To Gorky Rodriguez, Ruta Centenario owner, the scene is the ideal representation of what he wants his restaurant to be. “It should be a place to relax, for conversations, and a place for good times.” He adds: “It should also be a place that serves good meals.”
Gorky and his wife Banía Quinteros opened Ruta Centenario in 2014 it as a full service restaurant and, opening early to serve breakfast and staying open late to entertain a mature bar crowd. In between there’s busy lunch and dinner traffic.
Inside, Ruta is attractively laid out with comfortable seating on two levels. Some of the decoration reflects Gorky’s 30-year career in the martial arts, as a participant as well as an events promoter in Ecuador
The menu at Ruta is big and includes North American and Ecuadorian favorites, with some Mexican, Cuban and Peruvian dishes thrown in, reflecting the tastes of the Cuban chef.
Appetizers include bar-b-que chicken wings for 5.99 and a choice of three styles of nachos, from very spicy to mild. For the truly hungry, there’s the Papas de la Diabla, fries smothered in thick spicy sauce of beef, pork sausage, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and peppers.
A favorite for many diners is the soup of the day, at 2.50, although the locro de papas is very good at only 3.99. Salads include the house at 3.99 and chicken at 4.99. There’s also a good shrimp cerviche and a shrimp cocktail in red wine sause.
The entrees include a selection of pastas with house, Bolognese and carbonara sauces.
One of the most popular dishes as Ruta is the Filete Centenario, which comes covered in a thick mushroom sauce, for 11.99. With a side salad and fries, it’s big enough for two. There’s also the Pollo Catredral and a breaded corvina, for 8.99 and 9.99. Except for the pastas, main courses come with salad and fries.
Ruta Centenario also has a choice of entrees for vegetarians.
The sandwiches are big and, served with fries, and can be a meal in themselves. The popular cowboy sandwich comes with lots of beef, onions, mushrooms and cheese. There’s also a big chicken sandwich, which, like the cowboy, is priced at 5.99.
In line with Gorky’s and Banía’s good-times theme, Ruta serves a full line of drinks, including several house specialties.
The favorites are the multi-party drinks, which come in large bowls with as many straws as you have friends. Although Gorky says the recipes are a secret, the menu tells you the various spirits in the Ruta Centenario, the Infierna Azul, and the Demonio Rojo. These big boys will set you back $15 and Gorky suggest they are not for those who drink alone.
Despite the fact that Ruta Cententario is open late, it is also open for breakfast with choices ranging from light fare to North-American-heavy.
A good selection of coffees is served all day long.
Ruta Centenario, Benigno Malo 4-96, just south of Calle Larga, on the way down to the Centenario bridge over the Tomebamba; Tel. 282 7809. Click here to see them on the map