By Gary Michaels
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a new restaurant in Cuenca that offers something that I doubt you’ll find anywhere else in Ecuador — maybe anywhere else in the world. The restaurant is called Amañan which, in Quechua, means “make your own,” and is located on the corner Ave. Conquistadores and Francisco de Drellana, just up the street from Anubis.
Amañan is exceptional for its organic steaks, cuts of beef from free-range cattle fed on pesticide-free grass. All the beef served in the restaurant is produced by a single farmer dedicated to the organic process.
Amañan’s special twist, if organic steak isn’t enough for you, is upstairs from the restaurant. It’s a furniture showroom that offers customers the choice of buying ready-made products or the chance to design their own. So think about this: you can order wine or a drink downstairs and then walk upstairs, check out the furniture and come up with your own idea. The furniture section, currently being expanded, will have attentive staff to help you in your personal designs and answer questions about the available stock.
When I asked owner Luis Garcia what makes Amañan unique — besides the furniture concept — he told me it’s the experience he gained in the restaurant and furniture-making business in Jersey City in the U.S. He says he is combining his love of food and food service with furniture making, and offering the result to the people of Cuenca.
When you enter Amañan, the first thing you notice is a giant window on the left that provides a full view the workings in the kitchen. On most visits, you’ll be able to see Diana Garcia, Luis’s partner and Amañan’s chef, hard at work preparing meals. Diana has years of culinary experience, including a long stint at Mansion Alcazar.
On my visit, my friends and I were served three types of steak, T-Bone, Chop and Filet. All steaks came on volcanic stones to maintain the warmth. All the meat at Amañan is aged for 21 days before it’s served. Steaks are flavored simply, with all natural seasonings, including salt, pepper, oil, and herbs. They also serve chicken entrees, soups, salads, and children’s dishes and, of course, desserts. They also offer weekly specials.
The restaurant seats 40, not including the outside option.
One of Amañan’s great features is a very large patio area in front of the restaurant which includes an outdoor bar and stage. Luis’s plan is to serve drinks to patrons in the patio area while they wait for their tables. He adds that it is also for folks who want to order drinks and appetizers and simply “hang out.”
Amañan plans to have live music on the patio on Friday and Saturday nights. Luis is interested in booking bands based in the “Inca” tradition, mixing local music with jazz, blues and rock and roll. He believes the mix will provide a unique experience for listeners and be a special draw for the restaurant.
Meals at Amañan are part of the “slow food” tradition and Luis estimates that the average wait time for dinner will be around 20 minutes.
In addition to adding live music, Luis plans on developing an extensive wine list and selected drink specials to wet your whistle.
Amañan Restaurant is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 4pm until 10pm.; Address: Ave. Conquistadores and Francisco de Drellana (on the corner); Phone 099 970 2773; Email email@example.com.