If you're looking for a restaurant where you can chat with other expats during the day, Inca Bar and Lounge is a good fit for you.
Open since December 2009, Inca quickly became a favorite with expats during the day, when the locals are working, and with the locals at night, when the gringos have all shuffled off to dinner (or bed!).
Sitting literally on the side of the barranco (riverbank) above Río Tomebamba, Inca Lounge has a great view of the river and parts of New Town.
The building is an historic building protected by Cuenca's UNESCO World Heritage designation. So not much can be done with it to fix it up. But that's part of the building's charm.
The bottom floor is an outdoor sitting area where you can eat al fresco, protected by the second floor. Listen to the river flowing by as you enjoy some excellent food prepared by hand only after you order it.
Upstairs is the lounge with its bar, stools at the window, and the sitting area where musicians play. The kitchen area is also on the second floor.
We visited Inca Lounge one Saturday afternoon for a late lunch. The owner, Michael Sena, greeted us happily along with his friendly staff. We had missed a great Beatles tribute the night before, but Michael soon had us forgetting about that lost opportunity.
While we waited for our order, we chatted with Michael. It wasn't long before our meals arrived, including Lulie's "off the menu" chicken soup with mega veggies and fresh tuna sashimi, and Jeff's grilled chicken with fries (almost home-made potato chips) and a great salad.
Lulie snagged almost half of the fries, she liked them so much.
Other items on the menu include nachos with guacamole, salsa or cheese, the fries with cheese and peppers, salads, burgers, hotdogs, and sandwiches (the last three all with those delicious fries).
Beer and liquor drinks are available, as are soft drinks and tea and coffee.
Prices are very reasonable. Unless you're chugging beers with your meal, two people will eat for less than $15. Cash only.
Michael and his partner, Shannon Sullivan, have live entertainment occasionally on Friday and/or Saturday night, when the city lets them stay open until 2 a.m. (other nights, they have to close at midnight to keep the noise down).
The late night entertainment is largely for young Cuencanos.
On Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings, they show NFL football on the TVs, during the season. Michael and Shannon had a breakfast special during the World Cup, when soccer (football as its known here) was showing several mornings a week due to the time differences.
You'll find this comfortable and friendly lounge on Av. Tres de Noviembre at El Puente Centenarío. If you're driving, you can't go any farther along that part of Tres de Noviembre. If you're walking from El Centro, find any set of stairs down to the river and stay on the downtown side of the river.
They're open Tuesday to Thursday from noon until 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon until 2 a.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. Closed Mondays.
The phone number is 07-2850470. There's also a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Cuenca-Ecuador/Inca-Lounge/121568937860311.
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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!!