Welcome to Quito, land of the multi-faced market - from the corner-store market (aka "tienda"), to the neighborhood market (this one they really call market / "mercado"), the supermarket ("SUPERmercado") and beyond. Food is not hard to come by.*
Places like Mercado Central in old town will challenge you NOT to buy food with multiple levels of super-affordable prepared meals and fresh produce. If you do manage not to try something in there, upon exiting you're then surrounded outside by even cheaper, harder-to-pass-up deals, like 4 avocados for $1.**
It's a wonderful world. Though just a slight bit more complicated than that. The food systems in Ecuador are not incredibly stable. For example, the food pictured above, and - according to me - 99% of all other food you'll eat in Ecuador contains pesticides. That generally also means its coming from larger farms that are forcing wages down for the smaller farmers we all love so much. I mean really, there is nothing quite like driving up a high, cold mountain road in Ecuador to turn the corner and see a bundled up human pulling weeds on what seems like a 45 degree slope.
What is magical about the food system here, it that is still quite easy to find farmers - in AND outside of the city - who don't think twice about their organic farming practices. Organic food is the water they swim in, its the air they breathe, you know? It doesn't make sense to buy pesticides for people who are entirely TOO GOOD at farming to include something like that to kill parts of the ecosystem that they function as a part of so skillfully.
La Floresta is the best place to find that kind of food as awesome meals or fresh produce.
The alternative-minded folks living in the neighborhood provide the market for not only organic and local goods, but excellent home-made jams*** and avocados that will make you want to settle down in Ecuador for good.
La Floresta is also home to one of Quito's only all-organic markets on Thursdays. On Galavis between Isabel La Catolica and Andalucía. Same location as the Friday market, just indoors.
There you will find a dozen friendly farmers who have brought their goods from outside Quito - some waking up at 3am to serve you their produce - some gregarious, others reserved, but all with incredible offerings. The fruit vendors have some fruits that I all but guarantee you haven't seen or heard of before - including one they call "chicle," which is "gum" in English. You peel the golf-ball sized yellow fruit, take the seeds out, and can chew it for about a half an hour of non-stop deliciousness! It's incredible.
There is no better neighborhood in Quito for high-quality foods all along the price spectrum, either. Stroll Andalucía for a smorgasbord of world cuisines including some fine takes on Ecuadorian classics, or meander throughout the neighborhood for quaint restaurants that are listed nowhere on the World Wide Web.
Eaters of the world, again, WECOME TO QUITO'S FINEST: LA FLORESTA.
PS - see our post about Parque de Las Comidas for another all-star place for the top street food in the city.
*unless it's after 6pm
**I'm not kidding. Once I got 7 for $1. Old Town is not to be missed for avocado lovers.
*** The Friday Market in La Floresta, and Casa Warmi, for two.