Portland Food: Andina

Yesterday was J’s birthday so I took him out to dinner. The restaurant of choice was Andina in the Pearl district and based on the crowd and people waiting for a table it was the right place. A Wednesday night in Portland is not generally a hopping night in the restaurant business but Andina was packed; 7:30pm and every table full, the bar full, and people standing around. It felt like entering a New York club scene, vibrant, loud and alive. Yes, it’s tourist season but Portland is still smack dab in the middle of a recession so this was good to see.

Andina is a Peruvian tapas restaurant. They have several categories to choose from: fish, meat, gluten-free, and vegetarian and numerous options within each. You can order three sizes of plate: small, for one person; medium, for two people; and large, for three or more. If you want the greatest variety you can compose your entire meal of tapas plates but they also have regular entrees of Peruvian style foods.  

We’ve been to Andina for lunch and gone with the tapas but last night we decided to go more traditional with apps and an entrée. I started with bay scallops in a lime butter sauce crusted with Grana Padano cheese. The scallops were tender, the sauce citrus sharp and the cheese crunchy and salty; a wonderful combination. J had grilled octopus kebabs with chimichurri and said it was delicious.

This is an amazing trio of dipping sauces they bring with fresh bread. They move from mildest to hottest with the green sauce being a jalapeno mint. The middle is my favorite- passion fruit with some kind of heat that arrives with a kick at the end.

Luscious tender scallops just waiting to be scooped out and devoured.

For my entrée, I went with a slow-cooked lamb shank served in a black beer-cilantro sauce with garlic rice and pinto beans. The meat was so juicy and tender it fell off the bone. A forkful of meat, the cilantro sauce and garlic rice was heaven. J had duck two ways—confit and the breast seared to order with cilantro rice; another good choice. 

I know it looks daunting but it's a lot of bone not just meat. And it's so tender and delicious!

While I should have finished there the Australian couple next to us were so ecstatic about their dessert they leaned over to tell us it was a “must have”; like I need prodding about dessert. Who’s going to say no to crisp quinoa studded cannolis stuffed with passionfruit mousse, served with mango-lemongrass sorbet. I ordered, it came, I conquered. The sorbet was my favorite part—bright sunshine flavor, not too sweet.  

What can I say? I do not turn down dessert.

We left a bit after 9pm and the place was still packed. This is a not-to-be-missed restaurant if you’re in the Portland area. It’s a bit spendy but the food is unique with vibrant colors and flavors. The wait staff is friendly and helpful and the service seamless. Everyone knows what they’re doing and that, plus the exciting food, means you’ll have a great experience.