Cuenca is a great place to eat. The restaurants in the city center are diverse, and there are options that will appeal to every taste and budget. The best restaurants are often associated with hotels, but theyâ€™re still quite reasonably priced. The city also has quite a few American-style and European-style cafĂ©s where you can find a taste of home. There are also several good vegetarian restaurants in Cuenca.
Regional food in Cuenca is similar to that of northern Ecuador: a lot of pork, corn, potatoes and rice. Cuenca is also a good place to sample cuy (guinea pig), and if you look around as you drive around town, youâ€™ll see women cooking them on sticks over open grills. The San JoaquĂn neighborhood is known for having very good barbecued meat.
If youâ€™re feeling very adventurous, head to the local market for a meal. There, youâ€™ll see dozens of roasted pigs all lined up: for a couple of bucks, youâ€™ll get a steaming plate of pork with tasty yellow mashed potatoes known as llapingachos. Go ahead and try it if youâ€™ve got a strong stomach, but be warned that recent arrivals in country, and those prone to digestive problems, will want to take a pass.
People don't come to Cuenca to party, though there are plentiful places to grab a beer or coffee and listen to live music most weekend nights. Almost any night of the week, you will be able to find happy hours or drink specials, and there are several places that host weekly gringo nights where foreigners can meet and mingle. There are several salsa clubs and big dance discotecas for those who want to extend their evenings; asking the locals is a good way to find out about the best places to go.