For quite a while we’ve featured the impressive La Mirage Garden Hotel near Otavalo in our luxury Ecuador hotel reviews. I got a chance to visit it in person recently when Metropolitan Touring took me on a tour outside the city and had the pleasure of dining there for the most memorable meal I had in the country.
Subtlety and conservative decorating have no place at La Mirage. Both the inn and the restaurant are meant to dazzle and impress. Antiques, gilded gold, and lace mix with columns, mirrors, and enough flowers to stock a floral shop. (This is prime rose-growing country, after all.) The view out the restaurant window is equally beguiling, with peacocks strolling around the fountain and manicured gardens.
In case the initial visual impression isn’t strong enough, the first taste at the table is another showpiece. An amuse-bouche arrives inside a music box. You open the lid and tinkling music plays while you give your taste buds their own introduction.
An exquisite local soup followed for me. Then I went all-in for the main course, selecting a typical local dish that would make Anthony Bourdain proud: pork and more pork with hominy, potatoes, and cheese corn cakes. (Note the wooden pig plate to complete the ensemble.)
I ordered the strawberry pyramid for dessert, expecting some nice little concoction with a few berries. Instead the layered structure you see here landed in front of me. It looked impossible to finish, but every bite was so good I managed to pull it off.
If you can fit in more than a day trip to Otavalo and Cotacachi, try to make time to spend a couple nights at La Mirage. If that’s not possible, at least make reservations for lunch or dinner while you are in the area. It’s a meal to remember and gives you a good feel for what is possible with the local cuisine in this bountiful region.