When you live in the most popular beach resort in Ecuador, one thing you can always find is a restaurant. Here on the southern Pacific coast, there is no shortage of places serving fresh seafood, traditional Ecuadorian, and even familiar fare like pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers. Heck, the Salinas area even has two French restaurants now.
But like every tourist area, there are the “tourist trap” restaurants, and then there are the one’s where us locals like to eat. When it comes to one of the most popular and varied Ecuadorian items, the empanada, one place stands out as the go-to place for those of us in the know – “Pedro’s Empanadas de Verde con Guacamole” in the neighboring Chipipe beach is the name, but we just call it “Pedro’s”.
Pedro’s is an unassuming little building, sitting on a side street about a block from the beach. At first glance, you would think it was just someone’s house. Actually, it is – the restaurant is a family affair. Mom and grandma run the kitchen, the daughters wait tables, and dad and the boys sell empanadas out on the beach. They use the kitchen and front room for the business, and live in the rest of the house. This was obvious the first time I visited the baños – there was a cup with toothbrushes on the sink!
We first discovered Pedro’s almost five years ago, when we were on our first visit to Salinas. We saw the sign and walked in, and noticed that conversation seemed to pause for a moment, as everyone looked at us. We quickly realized that we were the only “gringos” in the room. The staff recovered quickly though, and greeted us warmly and went over the menu.
“Empanadas de Verde” means that the filling is made from a cooked mash of green plantains (the peel is green, not the plantain), onions, and various spices. This filling is mixed with your choice of cheese, beef, pork, crab, chicken, or shrimp, and then folded into a pastry shell. They are then quick-fried to a golden brown, and served with a small bowl of guacamole, and another of “salsa de aji” (a mix of onions and chopped hot peppers). Pedro’s is easy on the pocketbook too, as empanadas are priced between $1.25 – $1.75 each, depending on the filling.
A guilty pleasure there for us is the coco batidos. These are coconut milkshakes (sort of), and no doubt contain an ungodly amount of sugar – but they taste to good for to take the risky step of asking about calories. We console ourselves with the fact that walking there is a three-mile roundtrip, so hopefully it’s a break-even situation.
Over the years, we have become regulars. The staff always takes time to chat with us, and they enjoy helping us with our Spanish. One of the girls is taking English in school now too, so she loves to wait on us so she can practice. We’ve shared this secret spot with a few other expats, but this is still a place where most of the business is from locals stopping in for a quick lunch, or picking up some empanadas to go.
EDIT: By popular demand, here’s a Google Earth view showing Pedro’s location relative to the Salinas Yacht Club: