Sunday, April 12, 2015


It's fun being at Los Andes (903 Chalkstone Avenue  401-649-4911) even before you eat. Why? Because it's alive. It reminds you of dinners out in New York or any other big city where waiting in line is part of the drill. If you want prime-time reservations at Los Andes, call days ahead but if you are flexible on either end just show up early or arrive at 8:30 when the turnover pace is fast and the line starts to disappear (on weekdays at least).

We couldn't get the time we wanted the other night but we showed up (per the advice of the man who answered my call) and were immediately lucky, getting just enough seats at the bar. For two or three people sitting at the bar can be the best time. We watched the super hard-working (and friendly) bartender and the crazy fish in the giant tank. And I savored a chicken empanada dipped in spicy sauce. What could be better, really?

The menu has every manner of Bolivian and other Andean specialties. There are multiple ceviche choices and a standard appetizer is the "ceviche martini" - mixed seafood in a martini glass. If you're a ceviche fan, try it. A special the other night was tuna ceviche with a crown of crispy calamari, all healthy benefits of the tuna cancelled out but a good treat. There are saltenas (Bolivian chicken pies) and empanadas (chicken and queso and a special yucca and cheese in a banana leaf) and other popular Bolivian fare. Here's where you can order grilled garlic-marinated beef hearts on skewers.

The main menu is roughly divided among ceviche, other fish, beef and chicken. There are popular low-cost low-cut beef dishes with posole, fried eggs, etc., South American comfort food. Many of the tastes are not familiar flavors of the northeast U.S. More familiar are the expensive beef offerings, steaks of all types. Ceviche as a main course is popular and Los Andes serves it several ways - tuna, calamari, sashimi-cut tilapia. There's plenty of cooked fish including a simple, aromatic dish of steamed potatoes with tilapia and soft sauteed red onions on rice. Cheap, perfect. Next time around  we'll do some serious chicken ordering.

A busy place where people are obviously happy to be, a Pisco sour, an empanada dipped in spicy sauce and a menu which allows you to spend freely or frugally. East Siders, go west.

Los Andes is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, serving straight through on Saturdays and Sundays.

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