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Café Cultura, Quito

513 Calle Robles
Tel: 593 2 2224 271's insider take:

The capital's coolest hotel also happens to house its coolest café-bistro. From breakfast to dinner (which tends to be early—as is common in Ecuador, the kitchen here closes at 9:30 p.m.), the jeunesse dorée, the migrant students of Spanish, and the great and good of Quito drop in—for the scene as much as for the excellent food. Once the French Cultural Centre, the turn-of-the-century mansion was restored by owner László Károlyi with due respect for its Anglophilic patrician lines: Peruse a guidebook over an aperitif in the wood-paneled library, or take a snifter in a leather armchair before a crackling log fire after dinner. The dining room is candlelit and cozy, with ocher rag-rolled walls and a Renaissance-style angel mural; by day great arched windows allow views of pretty wraparound gardens and the resident peacock. Unpretentious food (ceviche, curried chicken with rice) is accompanied by house-baked breads and pastries, homemade jams, and fresh-squeezed juices by day, and a good wine list by night.

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