By Nick Rosen
Visitors, take note: a fun night out in Quito does not have to end with your head stuck out a taxi window, singing “I Know You Want Me” at full volume while the stranger you’ve been canoodling with tries to pull you back inside the cab. Oh, it certainly could– and visiting one of V!VA’s Top Ten Places to Get Inebriated at the Equator is a good way to kick off just such an evening– but there are plenty of alternatives. In fact, V!VA’s hometown has a number of nocturnal attractions to keep the teetotalers among us entertained.
Ocho y Medio is located in Quito’s La Floresta neighborhood, but it wouldn’t feel too out of place in the trendier parts of Brooklyn. The theater uses its four little screens to show Ecuadorian movies, the latest indie hits, and strangely wonderful German art house films from the 1970s. Though the movies are subtitled in Spanish, sometimes the theater shows English-language films. Grab the opportunity to slip on your skinny black jeans and come hang out at this hipster haven.
More conventional multiplex theaters can be found at shopping centers throughout the Quito area. The most convenient option in southern Quito is the Multicines branch at the El Recreo shopping mall. The nicest theater in Quito’s north is the CineMark located at the Plaza de las Americas mall.
Live from Quito, it’s Saturday Night
Quito is also the best place in Ecuador to catch a live music, theater or dance performance. One place to make note of is the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, a large complex across from Parque El Ejido. The cultural center puts on plays, concerts, film screenings and art exhibitions.
In the Centro Histórico, El Teatro Nacional Sucre hosts opera, ballet, theater and dance in a beautifully restored colonial building on the Plaza del Teatro. While the Centro has a checkered nighttime reputation, it is easy enough to get a taxi to take you directly to the theater; you should not be scared off from dressing up and enjoying this unique venue.
Quito’s Café Culture
Just because you aren’t drinking alcohol doesn’t mean you’re fasting, does it? By all means, warm up at Café Mosaico with a hot chocolate. Enjoy the ambience, the food, the view and maybe even your company. The hillside neighborhood of Guápulo is also chock-a-block full of atmospheric little cafés. Take your pick of Café Guápulo, Café ChiQuito or Mirador de Guápulo.
Be a Mall Rat
Alright, you probably haven’t spent your nights out goofing around at the mall since high school, but Quicentro, the city’s swankiest shopping center, is a popular hangout for the locals. Long after most streets in town are deserted, you will find Quiteños strolling and checking out the shops at the mall, which stays open until 8 or 9. If you want to stay even later, the attached bowling alley, which claims to be the most technologically-advanced one in the whole country, remains open until midnight.
Go see a movie, take in the ballet, bowl a few frames. Abstaining from drinking is not abstaining from a good time in Quito.