A wonderful addition to Cuenca is the Evans family and their restaurant, California Kitchen. From California originally, and most recently from Arizona, they brought with them a love of cooking California style, increasing your choices for dining out in Cuenca.
Although George and Carol had been in real estate with their own companies in both San Diego and Tucson, they're thrilled to be in Cuenca with their children, son Jim and daughter Susie.
Each of them has special talents and interests that they bring to California Kitchen, which is located in the courtyard of a lovely old colonial on Luis Cordero.
Their greatest hits happen to be, according to many with whom we spoke there, the hamburgers and the cobbler! But there are many tasty soups (the chicken posole, a Mexican chicken soup, is amazing!), sandwiches, desserts and specials that bring in people from all over the city, including Ecuadorians! There are many tastes here that you won't find anywhere else in Cuenca.
The chocolate mousse walnut pie is especially wonderful. Just ask Jeff, who orders it without fail whenever we dine there. It's so good that he won't share!
"So what brings an entire family to Ecuador?" we asked Susie. "I love to travel," she said, "and have been to Europe and the Middle East, so it wasn't hard for me to move. I started to feel the disconnect in the US, because it's such a huge country, people don't know their neighbors and are so busy and influenced by the popular culture. Plus, I also wanted to learn another language."
So what happened that really sealed the deal? "It was my brother Jim who read about Cuenca, and he and mom came down here October 2009, and were so impressed that we decided to sell everything and move down."
The family was working at the time, in real estate in Tucson. They sold the business, the home, and everything else, and moved to Cuenca.
Carol told us that she was ready to retire from real estate even if it meant moving. She loves cooking, so a restaurant made sense to her. She cooks a little of everything at California Kitchen, and serves tables when they get busy. She gets to meet many people that way, which gets very interesting at times.
"The restaurant came about as an idea where we could work together and make a living here, especially for the children, who are both in their 20s," George told us.
"We planned before we came here to start a restaurant, but couldn't find the right location until this one came along."
It's a great location, but a lot larger than what they'd planned. "We want to build the business and let the children have it as their income, then we can get back to what we came here for—retirement!" said George with a smile.
"We all have loved being here. We love the people, the weather and the cost of living, the slower pace of life. I want to learn Spanish when I have more time but now I'm doing the books, and Jim and I are too busy to study yet," George said.
Jim is the main grill chef at California Kitchen (he's also the bartender Thursday and Friday nights), although everyone shares all the duties, including serving their clientele.
With biscuits and gravy, waffles, pancakes, french toast, plus the myriad local fruits available for fruit salad, yogurt and granola, and, of course, coffee, we're not surprised that Sunday brunch is very popular with expats and tourists alike.
Susie is the main dessert and soup chef, "but my mother's blackberry (mora) and apple cobblers are really popular!" The mora cobbler is Lulie's favorite along with the broccoli salad, or any of the salads and soup! Jeff enjoys the cobblers too, but will always prefer that chocolate mousse walnut pie!
"Burgers are very good because we have it ground fresh every day," Jim told us. Chicken is also purchased fresh each morning, and the salad greens are washed three times, once in vinegar, to be sure of the best possible flavor and healthy eating.
The prices here aren't the cheapest you'll find in the city, but they're reasonable enough that locals eat here more and more. After two years, all of the Evanses are very pleased with how successful the business has been.
"We are a homecooking family, so all of our foods are comfort foods," Jim said.
Many of us here in Cuenca are very glad you came and are sharing your cooking talents with us! Thank you, George, Carol, Jim and Susie!
Jeff has one request though. "Make more chocolate mousse walnut pie!"
California Kitchen is open Wednesday to Saturday, and is closed Monday and Tuesday.
Hours are Thursday and Friday 11:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. (brunch only). Dinners are all-inclusive meals usually running around $12.95.
You'll find California Kitchen at 5-65 Luis Cordero, on the second floor.
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I just want to thank you both soooo much for creating this web site. I am originally from Cuenca but moved to New York 11 years ago and have not being back since. My husband and I are planning on visiting Cuenca over the Summer and this web site has helped me a lot.
When I came to the US we still had the "sucre," the bus ride cost 1,000 sucres and a pack of trident gum would cost 3,000 sucres. I am very nervous to go back, but thanks to your web site I now know what to expect.
My husband is American and Captivating Cuenca has taught him a lot about what my great city has to offer, things that I had forgotten about myself! :)
Thank You both so much! I cannot wait to visit Cuenca!!