How is Andina in Portland?
I recently heard great things about the peruvian restaurant Andina in Portland. Just looking for more feedback. I'm going to be in Portland for only 2 nts and want to choose my dinner spots wisely. Pok Pok is a definite for 1 nt. Other possibilities include Higgins, Cafe Mingo and Jakes Crawfish House. Any thoughts?
I'm always tempted to leave Seattle and head down to portland for great food. In a city a fablous meals, Andina is highly recommended. They have great drinks too, sometimes even live music. The Pisco Sours are the best outside of Peru. They also have small plates and large plates, which is a benefit since it is so hard to make a decision. The ceviche, in particular, is really delicious. In terms of authenticity, I'm not sure that Andina has the kind of food that you would find in Peru, but in my opinion that is a point for them because I had nothing palatable in the six weeks that I was travelling there (could be due to my tiny budget). Be sure to make a reservation because it's a really popular spot.
Paley's Place is also great. It's in a converted house and the food is always fresh and thoughtfully prepared. Great service. Great wine menu. I wouldn't skip it.
FYI--there are two parts to Andina: the dining room and the bar. The bar, where you can get the same food, is fairly popular and crowded, and on weekends (at least) has live music. The dining room is quieter and more formal (although I wouldn't say it's really formal). I'm not sure that you can reserve a table in the bar.
The owners John and Doris met in Peru when he was there for the Peace Corps (I think). Doris is 100% Peruvian, and they visit frequently. I think that all the chefs they have hired are Peruvian. On Sundays they used to have meals that were more like Peruvian home cooking, but the rest of the time they are serving food that, while it comes from Peru, is not traditional Peruvian food. I think it's pretty darned good, but I haven't eaten a lot of other Peruvian food! It is something different and very interesting--just talking about it has given me a craving for some of the aji amarillo sauce that they do there.
Andina is definately worth it! I took a Peruvian friend there and she was impressed.
Jake's is a tourist trap.
Put Paley's, Wildwood, Higgins at the top of your list too.
I live in Seattle, but one of the last times I was in Portland I went based on the strong recommendations of some of my friends.
I thought it was better than lots of places, but I wasn't 100% thrilled. I think what threw me off was the dinner rolls. I know...small, stupid thing to get worked up about, but the night I went they tasted (and looked) exactly like the dinner rolls you get on a plane. Dry and cold with that funny aftertaste you get with cheap rolls. They had dipping sauces, but they didn't really match the bread and therefore didn't make much of an impact. A crustier, rustic bread would have suited the sauces much better.
Everything else was good, but I wasn't thrilled. I think it might depend on how familiar one is with fine dining. While I have been fortunate to have numerous fine dining experiences, this restaurant was one of the first for a few of my friends and I am not sure if the meal lived up to the hype.
We stopped by Andina last time we were in Portland, just for some wine and a couple of small plates. I thought it was great - very professional service, excellent food. The quinoa dinner rolls were interesting - I would have preferred them hot, but I didn't think they were that bad. I thought it was a great place for lunch, but probably wouldn't be my first choice for dinner.
Caffe Mingo recently expanded to include Bar Mingo. It's quite a lovely space, and it's possible to eat dinner there, too. The menu looks a little bit more casual, but having eaten at the former and trusting reviews of the latter, I like it as a possibility. Also, it allows you to check out the NW Nob Hill neighborhood, which is quite different from the Pearl.
I like Andina, especially for their ceviche. They also have an oyster bar. Greg, one of the bartenders, is a rum expert, but is also masterful at all the various Latin American liquors (pisco, et al).
This might help you out:
Forget Jake's, it's mediocre tourist food; and you can do better then Higgins (though it does have the best beer list of any high end restaurant I've ever seen).
Andina is nice as is Carlyle, Sel Gris, ten-01 (my current top 3 high-end).
I thought Andina was good and interesting but not a culinary destination in any sort of massive way. I ate there last night, it was crowded and the service was a bit harried, though very friendly. About half the dishes we ordered were truly noteworthy, the other half - not so much. I personally enjoyed the Arroz con Pato very much as well as the grilled octopus. The scallop dishes were disappointing. And the crab and avocado salad was very good, but really what's not good about a crab and avocado salad?
Andina is great and pretty different. I am not usually a small plates fan, but I make an exception for Andina's bar. It is a great place with nice music and their small plate samples make a great meal and are very diverse. It is also well located for some after dinner wandering around.
In terms of your other options, Jakes is a letdown - pretty much hotel food these days. Higgins is great and a showcase of the region. If you are looking for low key and are willing to wait for a spot, the burger in the Higgins bar is life changing. Mingo is great and always has been, you can't go wrong there. It is tight and often there is a line out the door.
Other thought is Fenoiul (french in the Pearl) and Clarklewis.
Enjoy your visit.
So I think we've finally decided on our pdx dining schedule. We only have 2 days there so we're going for it!! Let me know what you think..
Sat: Pok Pok at 5pm and then Sel Gris at 10pm (I figure we can treat Pok Pok as a late lunch)
Sun: Brunch at Screen Door, head to Ponzi Wine Bar for an afternoon of local tasting, 5:30pm "late lunch" at Le Pigeon and late dinner and drinks (10pm) at Toro Bravo.
Too much?? I can't wait!