Every culture swears by its hangover cure. Americans chow down on greasy diner food. The Japanese pop pieces of salted plums. Ecuadorians, meanwhile, tuck into warm bowls of guatita.
From the Spanish for “little belly,” guatita is a stew that revolves around cow stomach, also known as tripe. Why is guatita such a beloved Sunday-morning staple? It certainly packs the classic hangover-helping blend of starch, salt, and spice. The stew features hints of cilantro, clove, and a sauteed blend of onions, garlic, cumin, and achiote powder known as refrito. A peanut sauce adds some complementary sweetness. Chefs round out the broth with diced potatoes and often add sides of rice, salty pickled onions (encurtido), or avocado.
Many consider tripe to be an acquired taste, particularly due to its rubbery consistency. Even though guatita’s many flavors and textures tend to mask any organ-meat unpleasantness, some diners might still wish to use a different protein. Meat eaters often substitute tuna or chicken, while vegetarians opt for seitan.
Despite its reputation, many Ecuadorians dine on guatita even when they’re not hungover. The traditional dish is made across the country by everyone from grandmothers to fancy restaurants.
Need to Know
You can find restaurants and vendors serving guatita on Saturday and Sunday mornings across Ecuador, particularly in cities like Guayaquil or Quito.
Where to Try It
Some say this restaurant has the best guatita recipe in Guayaquil.
Guatita with avocado and bread is a house specialty at this Quito establishment. A plate will run you about $3.