As you plan your trip to Ecuador, you’re probably imagining all the volcanoes, anacondas, and blue-footed boobies you’ll see. But what you might not plan for are those evenings between excursions when all you want to do is have a beer, listen to live music and people watch – just as you would at home. In the following blog, we’ll cover some of the best bars in Quito and other nightlife spots worth visiting.
Top bars with live music
The live music scene in Quito can’t compete with that of larger Latin America cities, like Bogotá or Mexico City, but there’s still a lot to be seen and heard if you know where to go. We don’t have Yelp! or an online events directory (free business idea, you’re welcome), so the best way to hear about cool live music events is through Facebook and by reading blogs like this one!
Once you find a venue’s Facebook page, I suggest looking at their upcoming Events section.
- Sirka – Located in the neighborhood of San Marcos in Quito’s Old Town, Sirka is a restaurant and bar that hosts regular live music events. At Sirka you’ll get to see several local bands, which is always cool. Cover usually costs around $8.
- Ananké – Ananké has two locations, one in González Suñarez and one in Guápulo. The one in Guapulo is by far my favorite because of the incredible views, but both venues organize live music events, just check their Facebook page.
- Café Democrático – Though Café Democrático might also fall under the nightlife category, it’s a great place to hear live music (and dance!). Some of the best salsa bands play here quite regularly, and the vibe is fun – make sure to check it out.
- La Oficina – Another great venue for live concerts and parties in la Oficina, in the neighborhood of San Blas in Old Town. They host live shows pretty much every weekend, not to mention regular jazz and blues nights.
- Bandidos Brewery – In addition to great beer, Bandidos organizes live music nights and even have regular bluegrass nights at some point. They have two locations, one in the Old Town near la Marín and another in the more posh neighborhood on Whymper Street.
Where to go for a cocktail in Quito?
If you’re looking for some pre-party action or just a classy place to get a cocktail, check out some of the following bars. Generally speaking, you’ll find good options in the Mariscal area and along Andalucía street in La Floresta. Isabel La Católica is another street with many classy restaurants and bars, as well as the area around the street República el Salvador.
- Zinc Gastro Bar – Located in la Floresta, this Gastro Bar is the perfect spot if you’re itching to dress up and feel classy.
- Isabella – Isabella is a sleek bar on the street called Isabela la Católica. It’s where many Quiteños go for a few cocktails before hitting the dance club. Also called a music bar, Isabella has a regular DJ and live music events throughout the month.
- Sur – An elegant spot for cocktails and gourmet cuisine, Sur is a good option if you seek to impress that special someone. As in the movies, bartenders skillfully handle the bottles as they prepare your drink.
- Pim’s – There are two Pim’s in Quito, one on Isabela la Católica Street and another up by the Panecillo, boasting an impressive view of the city. Both are really nice and both are pricey 🙂
Nightlife in Quito
Ecuadorians like to party, and that’s an understatement. As with live music events, good parties in Quito aren’t always easy to come by – you have to know where to look.
If doing research isn’t your thing, you can always head over to the La Mariscal neighborhood from Thursday to Saturday night. La Mariscal is the party zone in town but, over the years, has gotten a bit dodgy, so always be mindful of your drink and try to avoid walking down dark, abandoned looking roads.
Below are a few party venues to consider:
- Chiva – If you want a real Ecuadorian nightlife experience, hop on a chiva, which is essentially a party bus, but Ecuadorian style. Once on the chiva, you’ll be served canelazos (a warm, Andean alcoholic beverage). This is a party and cultural experience all in one!
- La Ideal – An alternative party scene located between 12 de Octubre and 6 de Diciembre, la Ideal regularly brings in some cool shows and parties. Definitely check them out while you’re in Quito.
- Lion – This is quite the happening spot for young Quiteños and would be classified as more mainstream than the previous venue.
- Bungalow – Bungalow is the equivalent of a frat party, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! If you’re with a group of friends, it’s a fun spot to get cheap drinks and dance, but it gets a bit rowdy and isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
- Lavoe – If you have some salsa moves, or just want to see the salsa scene, head over to Lavoe, Quito’s largest salsoteca. Cover costs about $10, but you can get in free if you arrive before 10 pm. This is also a good spot to see live salsa bands, though you should definitely check the venue’s Facebook Events page first.
- El Útero – El Utero describes itself as a sociocultural space within Quito. This means you’ll find different kinds of events there, including a good party every once in a while.
Though not a chiva (party bus), you’ll probably have a lot of fun traveling with the Wanderbus. You’ll meet many like-minded travelers and befriend them along the way, unless you’re antisocial (like me), which is okay too. I will mention that making friends while traveling can be useful when you’re headed to destinations with a cool party scene or group activities (Baños river rafting or Montañita beach parties).
Apart from fun times, the Wanderbus relies on the hop-on hop-off model, making it a flexible and convenient way to explore the country by bus. Additionally, it’s much safer, simply because pick up and drop off points are in safe neighborhoods (versus the south of Quito at the Quitumbe bus terminal).
If you’d like more info on things to do in Quito, read our other blogs on the subject or shoot us a message in the comments section below.