To experience a true Ecuadorian breakfast on the coast, I have the place to go, the local fish market in La Libertad, about a 20 minute drive from Salinas. There you will find a very active fish market with some of the shiniest, prettiest fish that you have ever seen. No glazed over eyes, just fresh-from-the-ocean goodness. Even if you don’t plan on buying the golden dorado or can’t tell the difference between the carita or pampa oro, it’s worth wandering the stalls to catch a glimpse of giant langostino and to see the difference in color between a farm raised shrimp and one fresh from the ocean (the vendor sells both). You can buy fish eggs, dried fish, smoked fish, and definitely fresh fish and all the clams, mussels, and sea snails you could possibly imagine.

But let’s say you didn’t come to buy seafood that you would need to prepare at home. Let’s say you’re showing up for breakfast, just like us. Don’t expect eggs. Costeños don’t generally eat them for breakfast though you can get one fried or scrambled with your bolón de verde, a dumpling made from green plaintains and filled with cheese or fried pork bits. That and a cup of coffee is not a bad way to go.

But why come all the way to La Libertad for a breakfast you could have had in Salinas? Better to go for one of the outdoor tables near a charcoal grill. There you can order fresh fish of the day, grilled right before your eyes, and served with a slightly charred green plantain and a small salad. Not in the mood for grilled fish? How about stewed? Just look into the kitchen nearby and there will be a pot or two of delicious goodness slowly simmering away. That will be served with rice and a salad. On the weekends, you can get fresh ceviche de conchas (clam ceviche) from a vendor who has been selling here for years. But only on the weekend. No matter which day you end up visiting, if you’re a seafood lover, you will be in seafood heaven

Just in case you would like to hear the sounds and see the sights in motion, here is a short but lively video of the market itself, thanks to Steve Sauter at YouTube.

The Fish Market

Information For Your Trip

Come prepared to eat delicious seafood. Cash only, small bills and $1 coins work best. If you must break a $20, make sure your purchase is at least $10.

  • Direction by Car, use WAZE and look for Mercado Municipal de Mariscos, La Libertad, Ecuador
  • Direction by Public Transportation Catch any local bus in Salinas and ask for the Mercado Municipal de Mariscos in La Libertad. The driver should be able to tell you where to transfer.