Review: Andina – Restaurant of the Year 2009

(minor updates 3/2013)

Andina Restaurant Portland Bar

Bar Area

With the myriad of restaurants opening in Portland every year, it is easy to forget some of the older ones, which often are better than the latest gastronomic trend-setters. In my opinion, Andina is one of these, a restaurant that rarely disappoints, always intrigues and provides a great introduction to one of the world’s great cuisines. After years of accolades, it would be easy for them to coast on their reputation, but it is obvious that they are always trying to reinvent themselves by keeping the staff trained, changing menus with the seasons and by offering challenging versions of traditional Peruvian dishes with their modern NovoAndina cuisine. The dishes are a dazzling parade of colors, from deep purple potatoes to the brilliant yellows of passion fruit, all dancing across the plates like an artists’ palette.

The interior is a stunning warm environment of comfortable colors that seem to have been chosen to compliment the food. The building is beautifully finished, with huge old wood beams, original Peruvian artwork, and theatrical spots that wash the walls with golden light. I especially like the effect in the evening, when the restaurant tends to wrap itself comfortably around you. As you enter, a balcony overlooks the picturesque downstairs, where there is a small private dining room. The restaurant is so popular, reservations are a must. Many nights it is even difficult to get a table in the bar.

Pisco Sour Cocktail at Andina Portland

Pisco Sour

Eating here is an adventure of flavors and combinations you might not expect. This could make ordering a bit confusing, but the staff is knowledgeable and will help you through the process. They are quick to pick up on the special needs of anyone at the table, offering to bring vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free menus without prompting. On my most recent visit I was having difficulty reading the small print on the menu, and they brought a tray of various magnifying glasses for me to use. Though service suffered a bit in the past, the bugs seem to have been worked out, and the staff is now some of the best in the city. The kitchen can be a bit slow at peak times, but not in a bad way. Drink orders arrive quickly, and you’ll have bread with dipping sauces to munch on, and great people-watching while you wait for your food.

While you are perusing the menus, try one of the native drinks, all $10.50, such as a pisco sour with its perfect egg white and bitters island over Don Cesar pisco liquor, or a darkly sweet caipirinha loaded with an intriguing combination of flavors from cahaca sugar cane liquor and lime. Pisco is the national drink of Peru, and will make you feel like you are somewhere exotic; a few of those and you really will be in another country.

Another interesting cocktail is the Sacsayhuamán, named after the walled complex near the old city of Cusco in southeastern Peru: habanero pepper infused vodka shaken with passion fruit puree and cane sugar, served up with a sugar rim and a cilantro leaf garnish. It’s an interesting and enjoyable combination. For the less adventurous, you may find their version of the mojito – white rum shaken with fresh lime, mint, water, and cane sugar served on the rocks more appealing.

The wine list is extensive. Chilean, Argentinean, and Spanish wines make up the bulk of the list with a standard restaurant markup. There are twenty by-the-glass pours, a selection of ports and sherries and three beers from South America. Full-time sommelier Ken Collura, is very knowledgeable and ready to make recommendations. In addition, there are interesting no-alcohol regional drinks such as the chica morada, a cooling drink of purple corn with lime, pineapple, and sugar.

Andina Restaurant Portland

Piquillo peppers stuffed with cheese, quinoa and Serrano ham

Meals start with a good basket of house-made quinoa bread, accompanied by three ajíes (chili) dipping sauces. The choices change from time to time, but usually include ají de maracuya, a yellow sauce made from a purée of passion fruit that dances a fine line between sweet and hot, a habanero, or ají de huacatay, which combines toasted peanuts with an aromatic herb of the marigold family, or a green jalapeño cilantro blend that brings a bit more heat to the choices. They are all so different from each other, I can never make up my mind which one I like best.

Both the restaurant and bar menus offer a large selection of small plates and salads. You can choose from three sizes, running from $10.50 to $38.00. As an accompaniment to an entrée, the small is quite adequate. On occasion I’ve sat in the bar and made a good dinner out of two of them.

Andina Restaurant Portland

Mango Verde Y Langostinos – green mango, passionfruit, and prawns

Several items make multiple appearances: ají amarillo, a Peruvian hot chili pepper which some people have said is the most important ingredient in Peruvian cooking, and yuca or cassava, which is a type of root, and a staple of the jungle region. Most of the dishes are a fusion between native cooking ingredients, and more haute cuisine. Peruvian food is strongly influenced by both Spanish and Chinese cooking as well as that of other nations. This can make for an interesting array of choices to pick from, with something for everyone. Some standouts: the tortilla de patata y alioli de ají amarillo, a Spanish-style potato fritatta or tortillia, with ají amarillo aioli. The tortilla features wonderful, light fluffy layers of potato with a slightly spicy depth; it’s just terrific. While many green salads are rather boring, the Andina ensalada verde Peruana made up of fresh greens topped with hearts of palm and whatever vegetables are in season is just terrific – large for the price, perfectly dressed in a balanced vinaigrette, the little seeds, palm hearts, and vegetables all giving an interesting interplay of textures. The small is easily enough for two to share. During the Spring and early Summer, try the esparragos Peruanos, fresh grilled asparagus brushed with olive oil and grilled for a nice smoky flavor. It is simple and unfussy, making any asparagus lover happy.

After having steak tartare quite a few times at Paley’s Place, I was interested in trying the Peruvian version: picadillo acebichado. Capers, olives and cilantro are mixed with ground raw filet mignon. A perfect tiny quail egg sits on top. When mixed together the combination is a bit wetter than a traditional French tartare, but good, a hint of lime bringing all the ingredients together with a South American flair.

The yuca rellena a la huancaina – cheese stuffed yuca with an ají amarillo and cheese sauce is a good introduction to yuca. The rellana is a bit doughy, but has gotten better over the last year. The accompanying sauce is interesting; a hint of pepper gives it depth without being particularly spicy. If you haven’t had Peruvian food, you should try it for an introduction to the ever-present yuca.

Andina Portland

Lime-flavored potato cake with spicy tuna, crab salad and crispy shrimp, served with avocado

Causa is a traditional preparation of potato from Lima. The secret is using really good papa amarillias, or Peruvian potatoes. They are mixed with fresh key lime, pressed into a cake, stuffed with a savory filling and served cold with avocado. Andina has it with three different ways; I tried it with mixta nikkei: spicy tuna, crab salad and crispy shrimp. I could be satisfied with a large order of this for dinner!

This part of the world is known for cebiches, a traditional Peruvian dish, where raw foods are “cooked” in key lime juice with onions, cilantro, hot peppers and salt. As is traditional in Peru, they are served with cusco corn kernels, slices of camote (yam), and pieces of cancha (crispy corn nuggets) They have six seafood versions and another four vegetarian versions. I’ve tried the pescado 5 elementos which changes depending on the catch of the day ($17), and the mixto chorrillano mixed seafood and fish with celery, ginger, and garlic ($15). Both are very good, the fresh fish leaving a firm texture and an almost Thai-like interplay among the flavors.

Andina sources its oysters from the east and west coast, so has not been terribly affected by the problems in the gulf. The ostras come with three house-made salsas: pisco rocoto, chalaquita, mango radish and nikkei. I found them really fresh; the accompanying salsa is very different from what you’d expect at other restaurants in town ($14 1/2 dozen, $26 dozen).

The entrées are universally large; I always end up taking home leftovers. They are, however, not cheap, with prices ranging from $18 for a basic squash stew, to upwards of $30 for more expensive options.

Food from Peru is heavy on beef and seafood, so you’ll find a large amount of both on the menus. Though the choices rotate on a regular basis, every beef dish I’ve tried at Andina over the past year has been great. Some examples are lomo saltado con yuca y arroz, which is tender strips of beef, wok-fried with onions, tomatoes, soy, garlic, and ají , served with rice and fried yuca. It is flavorful and shows the strong influence of Asian cuisine on Peru. Another dish that sometimes appears is entrecôte a la pimienta molle, a tender sirloin paired with purple potatoes, black quinoa, green beans, wild mushrooms and a molle pepper sauce. This is one of my favorite beef dishes in Portland; really tender with loads of beef flavor, cooked exactly as ordered. Another beef dish, bistec a la Peruana con humita verde, a marinated Cascade Natural rib-eye steak with huacatay butter is equally good. The meat is accompanied by a steamed corn husk “humita” a Native American dish from pre-Hispanic times, and a traditional food in Peru. It consists of masa harina and corn, which is slowly cooked in oil. Andina’s chef stuffs it with a fresh corn puree, asparagus, wild mushrooms, and cipollini onions.

Andina Restaurant Portland

Andina Restaurant

Last week I tried ajiaco de chayote con bistec. It’s a 28-day dry-aged Carlton Farms rib eye steak, accompanied with three traditional sauces: uchucuta de tamarillo, aceite de parilla and picadillo de pepino melon, served with sautéed chayote, yukon gold potatoes and ají amarillo. The steak by itself was good, enhanced by little rivers of crispy-tender fat running through the meat. The three dipping sauces upped the ante, adding a whole series of extra dimensions. From my experience, it’s hard to go wrong with a beef dish at Andina.

Another good choice is the lamb, currently corderito de los Andes. The restaurant usually does a good job with it, though on one visit I had to send it back twice to get it cooked properly. On a subsequent visit, it was just fine, and they comped a portion of my dinner. They use local grass-fed lamb arranged against Peruvian yellow potatoes, surrounded with a two cheese timbale. The meat is perfectly cooked, tender and juicy with just the slightest hint of gaminess, finished with a pepper demi-glace. Even the organic free-range chicken breast turned heads around our table. Pollito al pisco con toques chorrillanos, or chicken brined in pisco and roasted with Peruvian peppers, tomatoes and chickpeas – it’s a perfect synergy of unusual flavors. Crispy quinoa coated potato croquettes and an acorn puree is served on the side. As a health conscious friend put it “Even after I removed the skin, it is still one of the best, most flavorful chicken dishes I’ve ever had”.

Andina Restaurant Portland

Quinoa salad served with cotija cheese, avocado, and olives

Fish is also excellent at Andina. I recently tried atun con tacu tacu y aguaymanto, a seared yellowfin tuna crusted with black pepper and orange zest, served with lentil tacu-tacu, orange-endive “salsa criolla” and a cape gooseberry-aji-amarillo sauce. It was like a college class in harmony. I loved the presentation of a large piece of tuna, surrounded by four mounds of lentils, and a star shaped array of little endive boats that were filled with flavorful orange segments. The gooseberries provided unexpected blasts of flavor. Truly wonderful. Another fine choice that shows its Asian roots is halibut al rocoto y kion, a good sized piece of roasted halibut over a shitake mushroom, smoked bacon, and bok choy broth, topped with slivers of ginger, rocoto, and scallion basted with smoking hot sesame oil, served with more of that perfect asparagus and quinoa fried rice. Finally, conchas del Senor de Sipan, large bay scallops perfectly cooked, perched on top of wilted spinach and potato parsnip purée, with golden beet and crab meat “cannelloni”, and a duet of red beet and passion fruit reductions. Though some of these dishes sound like they have an overwhelming number of ingredients, they don’t feel that way when you eat them; everything just works.

Desserts have improved markedly over the past year, and reflect the modern flavors of Peru. The flan de queso de cabra is a goat cheese and lemon cake, laced with seasonal berries, basil and habanero. The result is somewhat like a cheesecake, but a bit more interesting. It is lighter than I expected. A trio of crème Brûlée was very good, with passion fruit, a mango, and and caramel flavors. The ubiquitous quinoa appears again in canutos de quinoa y maracuya, crisp quinoa studded cannolis stuffed with passion fruit mousse, served with mango-lemongrass sorbet and caramel. Special desserts are frequently available. I stopped in at the bar and had helado de albaca y limon con galletas de quinoa, which is simpler than it sounds: basil and lime ice cream sandwiched between three layers of chocolate-dipped quinoa caramel crisps, decorated with Fresno chili peppers and mango coulis. Three tiny frozen lime slices take a perch on top. The combination is perfect; there are lots of interesting flavors and textures going on, but none of them mask the others. The basil and caramel balance perfectly.

Andina Restaurant Portland

Canutos De Quinoa Y Maracuya

I think it is appropriate to talk a bit more about the bar area. It is completely separate from the restaurant and is inviting and comfortable. Almost every night after 7pm (8pm Fri-Sat) , you’ll find a small group playing – everything from The Gypsy Jazz Trio, to Sambafeat, to a flamenco guitarist. The musicians tend to compliment the scene without overwhelming it by being unnecessarily loud. Not long ago I had such a good time with friends over dinner, that we spent the rest of the evening sitting in bar, listening to music and people watching, as we had another drink. It is a terrific space.

The food at Andina rarely fails to impress, even catching the attention of Gourmet Magazine, Gastronomica, NPR, The James Beard House, etc. The scene is warm and trendy, the food beautiful to look at and overall quite good. They want to inspire passion for the food and an interest in the country, and I’d say they have succeeded. Though to many the prices may propel the restaurant into the special occasion night out, it is on my recommended list, and a must-visit for guests from out-of-town.

  • Grade: A
  • Phone: (503) 228-9535
  • Address: 1314 NW Glisan, Portland, OR 97209 Google Map
  • Hours: Open 7 days: Lunch: 11:30-2:30pm. Dinner: Sun-Thurs 5:00pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 5:00pm-10:30pm. Popular- you’ll need reservations.
  • Bar/tapas: Sun-Thurs 4pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-midnight. Happy-hour, 4:00-6:00pm.
  • Happy Hour: daily 4pm-6pm
  • Website: AndinaRestaurant.com

Andina on Urbanspoon

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. Anonymous says

    I like the appetizers in the bar and they do serve Pisco which my Chilean friend likes.

    My couple of issues are price seems expensive, but then again I am sure their rent is not cheap.

    Some of the things like the duck stew with a bread crust (I think) sound better than they taste.

    One last thing, do they have a semi full of Yucca in back? Everything seems to have this in ite.

  2. ExtraMSG says

    I find it to be inconsistent on entrees, but good overall. And it’s gotten much better than when it began. The bar food is the most consistent and luckily there’s a huge selection. The ceviches, imo, are the best in town with Taqueria Nueve second.

    They could do some work refining some items. eg, I recently had the duck three ways and the foie was overcooked. I didn’t mind the strong sear on the outside, but the inside was too cooked, to the point of being like soft butter. The duck was very good, but the side, some sort of pilaf with fava beans, had a bitter component to it that was unpleasant and should have been rectified by whoever was tasting.

    I give them some points for really trying to do something that’s not done in Portland and also trying to create haute Peruvian, something very rare, but trending. (eg, Limon in SF.) They could definitely be better, but they’re getting better. I do miss the little rolls they used to serve, however. They were fantastic. Much better than the bread, though I like the sauces they serve with the breads.

    I don’t know where your friends are from, but if they return, you may want to try: Antojitos Hondurenos (about 180th and Division) or Brazil Butikim (about 122nd and Powell), which may have some flavors they’ll like. Neither are white tablecloth spots, however.

  3. John Ray says

    I just had my second meal in 10 days at Andina. The first time was with a regular and we were treated like royalty. Last night, I was with some people I just met (and my friend) and while the service was above most places, it missed the sparkle I was hoping would be repeated for everyone. The food is fantastic, the drinks plentiful and fun. I ate with my son at Fresca in SF last summer so I’m glad we have someone taking a strong shot at authentic SA cuisine. I will be back.

    • Katrus says

      I’ve gone a few times with a friend who used to work there and the special treatment is indeed very nice! But even going as a mere commoner I love Andina. Such a gem for our city.

  4. Anonymous says

    I was so glad to see quinoa in the menu, it’s hard to find whole grain dishes in restaurants. This dish in particular is served with wild mushrooms, delicious! Also worth trying is the octopus.

  5. Anomymous says

    The food the good. It was a lovely dance of unique, fresh flavors and different textures.

    However, service was lacking. My wife was big pregnant at the time and needed to sit. The restaurant was full and so we were waiting for a table in the bar. The hostess was very rude. She asked my wife to stand because the waiting area was for the restatuant only, though no one was waiting.

  6. Chambolle says

    Made it to Andina last night, and was really impressed. They brought in Amy Jermain as Executive Chef about four months ago, and she is clearly executing some next-level culinary artistry. The food tasted as good as it looked. And it looked beautiful. They were jamming on a Sunday night and yet the food flowed out just right.
    MSG is right about the ceviches – they are vibrant and cooling.
    We stuck to by-the-glass wines because they were very well chosen: Chinon Blanc (yes!), Cahors, Torrontes, etc.
    A great experience.

  7. picky eater says

    I ate at this restaurant a couple of times and found it to be peruvian-esque california cuisine overkill. I also took a Peruvian native to eat there. She walked out without eating when she looked at the menu and didn’t recognize a single truly traditional dish. Peruvian food is so good without the haute added. Too bad Portland won’t get a chance to sample it.

  8. Nigella says

    This is my favorite restaurant in Portland! Everything – the food, service, cocktails and decor gets a 10!!!!

  9. casey says

    in response to picky eater:

    about half of the menu looks as though it could have come right out of a peruvian kitchen. traditional as can possibly be. maybe your friend was bolivian?

  10. Jillian says

    Response to Nick E:

    The drink you’re talking about is the Sacsayhuaman (just ask for the “Sexy Woman” drink!). I agree with you, it’s probably the most delicious drink I’ve ever had, and I tell everyone to order it. Habanero-infused vodka, passion fruit puree, cilantro and a sugar rim. Mmm…

  11. loton says

    I will be eating at Andina soon; however, I have lived in Peru and I am from San Francisco. I just wanted to make a couple of comments. (1) La Fresca (now Fresca) in SF is NOT authentic Peruvian cuisine (comida criolla) so it is not a good idea to compare authentic peruvian cuisine to Fresca. If any restaurant serves tortillas and claims it is authentic Peruvian, they are LYING. The only place you will find a tortilla in Peru is in a Mexican restaurant. While Mexican food can be good, there is NO comparison between Mexican food and Peruvian food. The closest comparison would be Japanese food in terms of quality, depth of flavor, etc… Anyone who puts tortillas in Peruvian food is making a heinous error by causing the food to be less healthy and less tasteful.
    Also, the Andina restaurant is missing several important classics, which are actually Peruvian staples, in their menu:
    Bistek a la Pobre: A steak with a sunny side up egg cooked on top, cilantro, onions, and served with fried bananas, rice, and sometimes fried potatoes.
    Pollo a la Brasa: Another favorite often ordered as a whole rotiserrie chicken with potatoes and a tasteful salad with tomatoes, lettuce, vinigerette dressing, and avacado

  12. loton says

    If anyone knows of another peruvian restaurant besides Andina in the Portland area, please post it or recommend a link to it. I am new to the area and having a tough time tracking down this unique food. Thank you.

  13. loton says

    PSS…..
    Limon in SF is NOT authentic Peruvian cuisine; however I have eaten there many times and it is good. PORTLAND……..give real Peruvian food a chance. My girlfriend is a native from Peru and I have lived there for several months at a time. If Andina drops the “nuevo cuisine” (new peruvian cuisine) attitude, I’m sure the people of portland will find that, by itself, Peruvian food is near, if not, the best food in the world. I sure hope Andina has the aji amarillo (made from escaveche peppers) because it is in everything in Peru. If they do this, I hope Portlander’s taste buds can stand the heat….it is worth it.

  14. thecobra says

    andina does in fact use aji amarillo in many, many of its dishes, along with aji panca & aji mirasol. they’re also fairly fond of habanero.

    they have never used a tortilla, to my knowledge. authenticity is kind of their thing… as is making really good food & having an outstanding wine program.

  15. Loton says

    I’ve eaten at Andina a few times now. They are very good, but as I was worried from experiences of other restaurants in Portland, it’s missing its heat. When at the restaurant, I asked the waiter, a fellow named Jose, why the food wasn’t hot. He told me that the food used to be hot and people complained, so the chefs adjusted the recipe to make the taste more amiable to Portlanders’ taste buds. While yes, it obviously does have some aji in the food, it must be, at most, a tenth of what it should be. There are other spices, of which I am not sure about the identity since I am not a cook, that are missing nonetheless.

    So Andina probably was authentic when it opened; but it is no longer authentic comida criolla. It’s now Nuevo Peruano, which is essentially Americanized Peruvian food.

    While Andina is still an excellent restaurant, and the food is very good, the food is missing several key ingredients that bring out an even richer flavor. I enjoy eating there, but it is not what I was hoping for. If you really want authentic Peruvian food in the United States, there are may Peruvian restaurants in New York that are completely authentic. On the west coast Inkas and Fina Estampa are the most authentic restaurants that I have tried (both in San Francisco). Fresca in SF has some classic dishes that are authentic like cabrito and lomo saltado…..it is just bothersome that they serve chips and salsa (and the gut wrenching clencher: sopa de tortillas), further supporting nationally held false opinions that everyone south of the US is Mexican, and that all South American culture is igualmente (the same). There are diversities and a cultural depth there undiscovered by most US naturals separating each of the countries as much from Mexico, in these aspect, as the US from Mexico.

    Overall, all foreign based ‘cuisine’ in Portland has been disappointing from Japanese to Indian to Peruvian food. People here don’t seem to like the food the way it was meant to be cooked and seem to want it to taste as bland as hamburgers and pizza………except maybe Portlander’s want it to look different from hamburgers and pizza. None of the food here fills your senses as it does in SF, NY or the countries where the cuisines were invented.

    However if anyone knowns of any restaurants that I haven’t found yet that might belay or alter this perception, it would definately be appreciated.

  16. says

    I don’t understand why the vegetarian/vegan menu doesn’t get any visibility. Aside from the great food and atmosphere it completely sets itself apart from most other restaurant by offering such great options for us non-meat eaters!!

  17. Diner says

    I particularly like the small plates at Andina. 4 or 5 to share are wonderful for two. Plus that incredible “Sexy Woman” cocktail.

  18. biabub says

    Loton – you need to go visit Shelly at Lemongrass. just don’t order anything hotter than 6 or 7 the first time until you figure out her scale of heat because it can blow your tastebuds away.

  19. pdxfoodfreak says

    Went to a wine tasting and dinner called “The Main Course” in Forest Grove on Saturday at which andina did the food. I had been to the restaurant many times before so I thought 2 things; that I already had tried everything they do and that they would never be able to maintain the quality offsite that they have in the restaurant. I was totally wrong. Although the evenings menu had the basic elements of the standouts on their restaurant menu, each dish was inspired and beautiful, not to mention near perfect. They were serving about 200 people and were able to keep all the temps perfect (even the buffalo tenderloin) and service was spot on. I have been to many events like this with big name restaurants and chefs preparing the meal, and most fall flat, but andina was great.

    I know that dinner there can be expensive, but it is worth every penny. When I don’t want to spend a lot I go to the bar, eat a little and drink delicious cocktails.

  20. says

    I recently had an amazing dinner here, with some of the best service I’ve ever had in Portland. I’d have to be really picky to find anything wrong with a ton of appetizers and three entrees.

  21. DinahDavis says

    I had dinner there two months ago (birthday) and I had high hopes after reading reviews and hearing about the restaurant from friends.

    The experience, alas, was not a happy one. After being told they could seat us at 5pm or 9:30pm (nothing available in between, although I called a week in advance) we opted for 5pm. Early, I know, but I don’t like eating after 8pm.

    We dutifully showed up at exactly 5pm. The host, a young woman, gave us a baleful look, and informed us that we were “too early” to be seated as the staff was still in a meeting. She then oh-so-helpfully pointed out the gathering occurring in the back of the dining room. I wonder, why did they insist on having us showing up at 5pm, if they weren’t able to seat us at that time? What a delightful way to make your patrons feel welcome! She then told us we could “wait in the bar”. No nice suggestion of “would you like to wait in the bar?” No making us feel at home by leading the way, no sense that we were anything but a burden. The three of us skulked off to the bar, feeling as though we had somehow transgressed.

    We sat down. And waited. No one greeted us. No one came to the table. It wasn’t crowded (one other table was occupied). After about 5-10 minutes, a very bored waiter came to the table. No hello, no greeting, no smile. We ordered cocktails, and were debating about ordering an appetizer, a discussion that was met by the server with a steely eyed expression. Sensing little enthusiasm from our waitstaff, we opted to go for just drinks. After all, we had already offended everyone by showing up on time; we didn’t want to aggravate them further. We waited some more. Finally, the drinks arrived after about 10 minutes. At that precise moment, the host bustled in and herded us to our table. We were able to snatch our beverages before being led away.

    Once we were safely corralled at our table, things improved a bit. The service was friendly enough, if a bit distracted. The food was very good overall.

    While I enjoyed the cuisine, the attitude we encountered bordered on snippy and disdainful. I don’t expect to be adopted by the staff of a restaurant; I just want to feel welcome. At Andina, I felt like an uninvited gate crasher, or some obnoxious relative they couldn’t wait to see the back of. I’m willing to try again; maybe they were having a bad night for some reason? I’m hoping the reputation of the restaurant hasn’t engendered the “we’re too good to serve your sort” pitfall that sometimes overtakes a successful eatery.

  22. alma says

    We just had dinner at Andina for the first time – we’ve been living out of town temporarily & I hadn’t even read about it before tonight. It was amazing – incredible cocktails, food that was delicious & inventive, while still true to its roots (not everything has to be an “authentic” Peruvian dish for this to be so), warm atmosphere. The service was lovely – we couldn’t have asked for better. The owner (?) actually came to our table to ask how everything was, and we ended up talking about the changes in Peru etc etc… anyway, the whole presentation seemed quite heartfelt. I can’t wait to go back.

  23. red_the_opinionated says

    Recently, an old executive chef of ours came into town, and had one night to go out to dinner. Without blinking an eye, we brought him to Andina. The winner was the grilled octopus dish – ridiculously tender, with a good amount of char, perrfectly balanced sesoning, and they were not stingy at all with the wonderful olive oil. It was perfect.

    My SO and I are both cooks. We rarely go to a fine dining establishment more than once or twice (too many to choose from, and we don’t go out like this more than four or five times a year.) but we have gone here again and again over the years, more than any other restaurant in town actually, and it never dissapoints us.

  24. Pearl District says

    Some items are great at Andina, but the pricing on the menu makes little sense. The large potato dishes are the same price as the large octopus dishes. Plus, some of the food just isn’t that special in my opinion. Andina is best enjoyed in the bar. The cocktails are great.

  25. Shawn says

    Megan is right: the separate vegetarian/vegan menu needs to be given some props. What other restaurant in Portland does that? When I first went there, I was amazed that they had one. I’ve been back several times since then and I love it. I haven’t been to a whole lot of ‘nicer’ restaurants here in Portland since I moved here, but Andina is definitely my favorite so far.

  26. man-o-steele says

    I think, FD, that perhaps you should award a ROD (restaurant of the decade) rather than a ROY. A ROY is just that, who is producing the best, most interesting food for that year, regardless if they have been open for a six months or 6 years. A ROY is a snap shot, while a ROD is a thesis. Additionally, there is the danger of avoiding the latest “flash in the pan” or “shining orb” as much as there focusing on “consistency.” I expect you to be able to sort that our, but clearly you have favored the latter. (I think Emerson had something to say about “consistency.”)

    I have dined at both of your ROYs and had strikingly similar experiences. Within 5 minutes of being seated, I was assessed as being too young (I am at the age where I should really be flattered) and too poor. From that point on, service was horrible, while at the same time near-by tables of “richer” (I assume) and older (I observed) tables were fawned over. The food was forgettable. In fact at Paley’s, the host (and co-owner) intercepted our server to divert her to the other table.) I find it interesting that I had such similar experiences at these northwest/pearl icons. When places become successful they tend to cater to the tastes of those whom brought them success. Nothing wrong with that, but if you do not fit the profile, you are SOL.

    FD, I respect and admire your reviews, but think there are other restaurants who are producing better, more creative and challenging food this Year–but you have decade right.

    • Food Dude says

      Strange. I can understand how you feel, and have felt that way myself, however I have found no matter how I dress, I never have bad service experiences at these restaurants. Maybe it’s just because I smile and say thank you.

      (.05 to anyone who recognizes the psychobabble technique employed here)

  27. TydavnetMan says

    FD, I couldn’t agree more with everything you said above. We’ve visited Andina a few times now (Az dwellers, occasionally in P-town), and this restaurant is everything you could want for a great night out. Superb food, wonderful atmosphere & the staff are especially helpful and knowledgeable. I will be recommending this restaurant in future to anyone and everyone who’ll listen. It really is a Gem. Slainte – IrishGuy

  28. runi says

    Dinner last night was a snore. Piquillo pepper appetizer was okay but not interesting. Mahi-Mahi dish was strangely and absolutely bland. Scallops were good though, once again, not interesting.
    We haven’t been to Andina in a few years and I don’t think we’ll make any special effort to be back soon. I do really appreciate their efforts with gluten-free dining.
    Lovely drinks and I love the fried yucca root.

    • Food Dude says

      Sundays are generally “suckers night out” at restaurants. Combined with the short week, I wonder if that was the reason. I had dinner there a few weeks ago, and it was really excellent.

      Either way, that is certainly no excuse for a bad meal.

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