I continue to be impressed with Houston’s EaDo neighborhood’s quirky nightlife offerings and counter-culture sentiment. When surveying the choices for Restaurant Weeks I was curious about Andes Cafe not only for their EaDo location but for the fact that they bill themselves as pan South American.
Located on the ground floor of a building that looks like an adult rehab center, the atmosphere inside is surprisingly lively and colourful. I wasn’t convinced I needed a reservation for this place but did so since our group was large. Glad about that since there were no free tables in the small space from 8-11p. It is loud, densely-packed and given the open kitchen, the smells of grilled meat and corn are in constant pursuit of your attention. I liked it, it reminded me of NYC. Looking for quiet conversation and romance? Keep looking.
The menu annotates the dishes with their country of origin – the majority from Columbia, Peru, Chile and Argentina. I went Restaurant Weeks menu for dinner but back to the regular menu for an additional Peruvian appetizer since it was recommended from a friend who is from Peru. For me, all of the items were a win, however several people were not happy with their grilled meats – too tough and dry. Maybe an artifact of too many patrons, not enough chefs.
Antichucos: Grilled beef heart kebabs. I think the last time I had organ meat the X Files was still on the air. They were extremely flavourful, mostly picking up garlic, salt and the inherent gaminess of the meat. Served with choclo (big corn kernels) and huacatay sauce (black peppermint).
Causita de Camerones: Potato mash, molded then served with an interesting combination of amarillo aji, olives, shrimp, avocado, queso fresco and a side of mild salsa. The flavours were unexpected but delicious; the experience is up to you and how you decide to mix the potato cake with the other ingredients. The glue here is definitely the amarillo aji sauce; a creamy yellow pepper sauce with a little bit of heat.
Sudado de Pescado: I wasn’t clear what type of fish fillet was used in this stew but its was light and flaky. The stock for the stew was tomato based but with an inherent sweetness, from a good dose of caramelized onion and acidity, from a good dose of fresh lime. I liked. While I didn’t use any of the steamed white rice on the side, it was a nice touch for those wanting a more starchy consistency.
Andes does not yet have a liquor license but you can BYOB for the standard corking fee. You could churn butter about EaDo looking for a last minute liquor store to purchase wine – good luck with that – or you could just bring what you have.
There were two guys waiting on 10 tables and about 35 people. That said, service was good. We were not in any hurry anyway. When one from our table complained about the toughness of the meat, that meal was deleted from the bill without further conversation.
Reasonable from what I’ve seen in other comparable South American venues. Small plates, $5-10. Large plates, $10-15.
Dinner: August 2014
Andes Cafe | 2311 Canal | HTX 77003