Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! I hope everyone had a wonderful, and safe holiday this year. Since Thanksgiving is my favorite of all holidays I’m cooking a big dinner per usual, but I’ll talk more about that tomorrow. Right now I want to tell y’all about an amazing restaurant my husband and I ate at while in Banos, Ecuador.
It’s called Sativa Studio Café, and it is the hidden jem of hidden jems, let me tell you. Not only was this the best place we ate in Banos, it was the best place we ate in all of Ecuador, in fact the best place we ate on the entire trip. The food menu is small, limited to three dinner options each of which come with homemade chips or salad, and one breakfast option - but their drinks menu is extensive. They offer coffees, fresh juices, Health Elixirs and Tonics, and Kombucha. Not only is the food fantastic - carefully and lovingly prepared by the owners, but the atmosphere is chilled out and relaxed. The food takes time to prepare, because it’s fresh as can be, but you won’t mind the wait as you sit back in recycled and repurposed furniture, grooving to the reggae vibes.
We ate here twice during our stay in Banos and tried a pretty good selection of the menu. We also talked quite a lot with Jessie - who owns the café together with his wife - and he was kind enough to show us the organic garden they have in back where most of the vegetables they use come from. The garden was brilliant, and I was completely amazed at how much they were able to grow in such a small space. He also told us a little about how the restaurant came to be, and how it was decorated. Friends and local artists painted murals on the inside walls, and virtually everything inside is recycled or rescued from ending up in the trash. There are a nice collection of colorful tile topped tables, some brightly colored couches and arm chairs from the 1950's, much of the flooring comes from when the church was renovated and put in a new floor. Some amazing, heavy wooden lounge type chairs were rescued from the side of the road. This is a couple that doesn’t like to add to consumerist culture, and doesn’t like waste - I can fully appreciate that, and the minute you step foot into the café you’ll appreciate it too, because it really adds to the nature of the place. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a cooler café in my life.
But, enough about all that, what about the food you ask? Well, on our first trip I decided to go with the Patacones and Salad. Patacones are smashed fried plantains that have a garlic lime marinade. These were simply delicious. I’ll take any excuse to eat some plantains but these were probably among the best I had all trip. The salad was delicious as well, not that there was any doubt it would be considering their phenomenal garden. This was not your average side salad either, it was full of mixed greens, chopped bell pepper, onions, sprouts, apple, pumpkin seeds, edible flowers and even more that I can’t remember. The dressing was simple and minimal, so a not to outshine the freshness of the vegetables. Seriously this was the perfect meal. With it I ordered a kombucha which was probably one of the best kombucha’s I’ve ever had anywhere! So flavorful, and not too vinegary like some I’ve had.
|Patacones with Salad|
For his meal my husband went with the Tamale which I believe contained a mixture of black beans, Swiss Chard and some other vegetables. This thing comes steamed in a banana leaf rather then a corn husk and it’s probably the most moist and flavorful tamale I’ve ever had. I only had a tiny bite but it was enough to taste the full-on flavor. My husband loved it, and devoured it in minutes along with an equally amazing side salad. For his drink he ordered the Seven Spice Coffee which was hands down the best coffee I’ve ever drunk anywhere, and it became the inspiration for my Epic Coffee . I will never drink another normal cup of coffee again!
|Tamale and Salad|
|Check out that bomb-ass salad!|
|A somewhat inside shot of the tamale|
On our second visit my husband went with the Patacones and a salad while I decided to try the Veggie Burger with yet another Salad. The veggie burger was AMAZING! Probably one of the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had, full of lentils, grains and vegetables. It came topped with lettuce, tomato, sliced beets and a few other things. So much flavor and it really hit the spot after we’d had such a long day.
|Veggie Burger and Salad|
For drinks that night we went a little overboard. We both ordered a Seven Spice Coffee, then my husband ordered a Fresh Passion fruit Juice - which is perhaps the best thing I’ve ever tasted and Jessie makes it in a magic bullet! I decided to go with the coconut pineapple juice which was like no juice I’ve ever had, and the most amazing thing is that the juices were sweet, but there was no added sugar. We also tried some of the elixirs only I wish I could remember what they were called or what was in them. One of them was one of the more popular sellers and for good reason, all of them were good but some were stronger then others. Jessie even gave us a free shot of another popular elixir they make, which was really good, and super nice of him.
|The Amazing Seven Spice Coffee!|
All and All this was the best dining experience I could have hoped to have, and I highly, highly recommend you check out Sativa Studio Café if you’re ever in Banos. Seriously, you won’t be disappointed. Heck, if you’re even considering planning a trip to Ecuador - which you should! - You need to take the time to visit Banos, not only for the amazing food but for the beautiful scenery too!
Sativa Studio Café
Calle Luis A Martinez y Eloy Alfaro Street, Correo Central
Open Mon-Sat 11am-11pm