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Quito’s nightlife ranges from serious salsa to raves, from classy English style pubs to horrible karaoke beer troughs. In general, the bars close at 2 or 3 o’clock. Discos are another story. There are several discotecas that stay open until dawn.
Another point to address up front is the difference between the various entrance fees. Bars in Quito handle what you and I know as a “cover” in one of three ways:
1. Cover charge: the one that we know best. You pay a certain amount to get in the door and then you buy all your drinks, or none, it doesn’t matter;
2. Consumo minimo: there is no cover charge persay, but you have to spend at least X number of dollars or you pay something when you leave; and
3. Entrada con derecha a una bebida: by far the most popular in Quito. You pay X number of dollars and they give you a ticket or token for a “free” drink.
Some of Quito’s better known watering holes…
- La Boca del Lobo (José Calama and Reina Victoria) – the perfect place to start your evening. La Boca del Lobo has delicious international cuisine and great drinks in a cozy, artistic environment.
- Varadero (Reina Victoria 17-51 and La Pinta) – great live music! Varadero is one of the best musica en vivo venues in Quito. A must for anyone that likes Cuban music. A place to hit at least twice a month and definitely the kind of joint where you could stay for a whole evening. The restaurant next door (same owners) is also great! Authentic Cuban cuisine. Yum!
- No Bar (José Calama and Juan León Mera) – gringos unite! The consummate young Gringo (18 to 25) hangout but also popular with young Ecuadorians, at least those that like Gringos. If you want to rage it’s a good place to go. By 1:00, the majority of the patrons are thoroughly sloshed. You either love it or you hate.
- Seseribó (Veintimilla and 12 de Octubre) – salsa, salsa, salsa! Far and away Quito’s best salsatech. Drinks are slightly expensive and they charge a cover but if you like salsa there is no better place in Ecuador.
- Ghoz Bar (La Niña 425 and Reina Victoria) – a swiss owned pub on the northern fringe of La Mariscal. Ghoz is known for its food, beer, and, above all, its games, which include pinball, darts, pool, and foosball. You almost never have to wait to play because they have plenty – 8 pool and 5 foosball tables.
- El Pobre Diablo (Isabel la Católica and Madrid) – a sedate, cultured bar known for its jazz, finger foods, and atmosphere. The bar moved recently from its longtime home in La Mariscal to a more upscale local behind the Swiss Hotel.
- Turtle’s Head (La Niña 626 and Amazonas, between Amazonas and Juan León Mera) – a Scottish-owned pub in Quito’s Mariscal district and is the only place in Quito where you can get home-brewed beer. At Turtle’s Head you can get delicious hamburgers and snacks along with pool, darts, afuse-ball and on occasions live music.
- Kings Cross Bar (Reina Victoria 1781, between Orellana and La Niña) – after a few beers you’ll forget you’re in Ecuador. The Canadian run Kings Cross could be in any small town north of Mexico. The owner works the bar every night, serving Labatts Blue, great burgers, and chicken wings. Both the burgers and wings are arguably Quito’s best.