What a great find Tierra de Fuego is! And I mean that literally; it’s a little tough to locate, but once you do, you will be rewarded (see directions below).
The first thing you notice about the restaurant are the beautifully maintained grounds. Inside, you find a large eventos room which may or may not be in use on a given night; other smaller dining rooms display a variety of antiques. There’s also a cute sala de niños with toys to entertain the little ones while the parents dine.
A strong smoky smell emanates from the two huge domed ovens with a big grill set between them and attended by several chefs, their number determined by the crowd expected for the evening. The tables are beautifully set with attractive stemware and black pottery. Many of the tables in the large dining room are “shaded” by patio umbrellas, which lends a cozy touch against the high ceilings.
The menus are cleverly sandwiched between two pieces of wood with the Tierra de Fuego logo wood-burned into them. This is mostly a meat place, with numerous beef, pork, and chicken choices, but seafood options are available (all come with potatoes and vegetables). I don’t know where they get their beef, but I do know it’s delicious and tender; the Lomo Fino Fuego specialty is coated with a terrific sauce. The wine list isn’t extensive, but offers a good selections at decent prices up to $40, with several in the $20s.
Tierra de Fuego, which opened in October, isn’t an inexpensive dining choice; it’s more for special occasions. Entrées range from $12 to $20, with a hamburger for about $8. There are also pre-fixed selections for four people.
The restaurant is managed by Andrés Durán, a member of the Durán family which also operates the Carbón Restaurant in the Hotel Cuenca on Presidente Borrero.
I’ve found that, after dining there on at least three occasions, Tierra de Fuego has been consistent and excellent at every turn. The service is friendly and efficient. The bathrooms are large and clean. Overall, the ambience is pleasing, though the smokiness my not be to everyone’s liking.
The restaurant is located at Av. 10 de Agosto 3-107 in the middle of the block between Ricardo Muñoz and Vientisiete de Febrero. I expect that if you hand them the address on a piece of paper, most cabbies will find it.
If you drive, go east on 10 de Agosto until you pass the restaurant. Take a right at the light just past it and another right up what appears to be a dirt road, kind of like an alley (remember those?). At the top of the hill is a well-lit sign for the Tierra de Fuego parking lot, which is spacious and attended by a nice gentleman who will get you parked and on your way into the restaurant.
On a personal note, this will be my last restaurant review for CuencaHighLife. After four years in wonderful Cuenca, my wife and I are moving on to our next great adventure. I’ll be having hip-replacement surgery in the U.S., and then we’ll be traveling the world for the next five to ten years or as long as our aging bodies hold up. I’ve enjoyed your comments—good, bad, and silly—and I’ll miss the opportunity to share my favorite restaurants in the hope one of them might become your new favorite. Chao!
Tierra de Fuego, 10 de Agosto y 3-107 y Ricardo Muñoz, 07 281-0184 or 0991268174 and 0984171608; firstname.lastname@example.org; open for lunch and dinner, noon- to midnight (depending on late business)