So in Canada, we had a Thanksgiving long weekend, signifying that Autumn is officially here and Winter is right around the corner.
Some families gather around a loaded dinner table, filled with sweet potato and all the trimmings, with a turkey as the main attraction and a pumpkin pie waiting in the oven.
What our family does is a little bit different; fill a suitcase of random clothes, fill the Volvo up with gas, and drive 14 hours to Portland.
No big deal.
We left Canada early morning and got to the City of Roses at ~8-9PM PST. That long drive obviously made us quite hungry. I tried to follow what local blogger, Jessamine in PDX (great recipes to
steal borrow), suggested:
Bollywood Theater is awesome. So is Ava Genes, Ox and Smallwares. If you do breakfast Country Cat is a sure thing — just be prepared to wait. But their biscuits are unreal. If you have the time to travel a bit to the suburbs Yuzu in Beaverton is crazy good Japanese food. Not sushi but ramen, pork stomach, fried chicken. So good. But get there when they open or you won’t get in. Eat well!
Out of those suggestions, only one was open late at night and near our hotel: Ox, which is focused on Argentinian cuisine.
However, it was Friday night and everyone wanted to party so we couldn’t get a table. Thankfully, Eater.com suggested a place a little bit similar: Andina, which focuses on Peruvian cuisine.
I don’t know the specific differences between the two but the foundation is the same: grilled meats and tapas (shared appetizers and snacks).
Are you hungry? Because we were.
1314 NW Glisan St
Portland, OR 97209
Situated in Portland’s Pearl District, Andina is a restaurant that is hustlin’ and bustlin’, especially when we went on Friday night:
Specializing in Peruvian cuisine, their signature dishes are tapas, which are small appetizers that you share at the table so you can have an adventurous night and try out a lot of things with no regret 🙂
Their setup is more upscale than I expected but no matter; so long as the dishes deliver, I’m game!
Apparently, my brother thought his phone was more important than the cool neighborhood décor that Andina had around!
To start, our server brought us freshly-baked bread mixed with quinoa (interesting), which was supplemented with dips from mild (peanut-based) to sweet (passion-fruit mixed with light chiles), to something with a bit of heat (Habanero):
Immediately, we ordered a plethora of tapas so I’ll only discuss the ones we loved the most:
The point of tapas are to try out different things, share, and have fun. We picked several dishes that caught our eye and let our palate go on a wild ride.
Our favorites were the beef heart skewers and the cebiche mixto, which is fresh seafood in a vinegar mixture that ‘cooks’ the seafood through acidity.
The skewers were flavorful and tender, while not overcooked. There’s a tendency that these are left too long in the grill and turns into leather but they did it quite well. The spices were savory and the taste of heart was not overbearing (once you’ve eaten offal, you recognize the texture and taste right off the bat).
The empanadas were odd to me because it was too sweet. I’m used to empanadas having a savory taste and wasn’t sure if it was a Peruvian-style or what but it wasn’t my thing.
As for entrees, I ordered the Seco a La Nortena, which is the slow-cooked lamb in a black beer sauce:
The lamb was fall-off-the-bone soft but on its’ own, it wasn’t what I expected. The beer sauce didn’t add much to the excitement of the lamb and it felt like it was covered in bitterness. However, if you mix it with the white bean stew and the garlic rice, then the tastes and textures all mix in-sync; the beans texture tag-teams the softness of the lamb and the saltiness balances out the sauce.
Together, they work well and I like that.
My mom got the Escabeche De Pollito Con Duo De Camotes, which is pan-roasted chicken with escabeche-style pickled onions and sweet potato covered in roasted quinoa. By itself, the chicken was nothing to be proud of but have it with a chunk of crunchy sweet potato-quinoa concoction, an olive, some pickled onions, and the flavors harmonize and provides you with different textures that balances one another.
My brother got the Carapulcra Con Puerco, which was an odd take on the pork loin; stuffed with Fontal cheese and on top of a potato stew or carapulcra mixed with chocolate.
It sounded odd and looked odd.
Tasted odd as well; don’t think these two should mix together as the dark chocolate fought with the taste of the pork.
My dad got the Arroz Con Pato, which is duck cooked two ways: crispy duck confit and pan-seared duck. The duck was well-done, which is how my dad wanted it, which removed the gamey taste of duck. It’s still there though but not as strong. The cilantro rice was not something to scream about on its own but with the duck, it’s well executed.
Overall, Andina is a place that values togetherness and it shows in their dishes. Everything tastes their best when they’re combined as the chef wanted you to experience. Their tapas help you explore your wild side and try out things you weren’t willing to try alone because odds are, someone else in your party wants that.
I feel like Andina is best for a group of friends or a family that wants to try something new and explore their taste buds to something different.