I have to admit, prior to visiting Los Andes, I knew very little about Peruvian and Bolivian cuisine. I had never been introduced to it before, mainly because there aren’t many restaurants offering it. As the manager, Omar, kindly explained to me, their cuisine is incredibly diverse with Spanish, Italian, and Japanese influences (sounds crazy, huh!). Immigrants from these three countries modified their traditional dishes by using ingredients that were readily available in South America. For this reason, I think that Peruvian / Bolivian cuisine could be the next big food craze (mark my words!). It is exotic yet approachable, with many familiar flavors presented in a new, unfamiliar way.
A warm, welcoming staff and an unpretentious setting, both authentic and festive. A duo of mannikins are found in the corners of the dining room dressed in feathery, native costumes. Traditional music plays in the background with fun, lively sounds from percussion and wind instruments. Although the menu is extensive, do not be overwhelmed. It has a great variety of dishes that offers something for everyone. From seafood, to beef, and chicken, you are bound to find something that will tickle your taste buds. Best of all… the prices are very reasonable with portion sizes that would even challenge Joey Chestnut. So bring your appetite!
Ceviche Martini – This was hands-down the best ceviche I have ever had. Absolutely sublime. It was served in a martini glass and overflowing with shrimp, tilapia, squid, and mussels. It tasted light, fresh, and perfectly balanced. Some slight heat towards the end, but not overpowering at all.
This appetizer alone is worth a special trip to Los Andes. The best part…it only costs $7.95. Other upscale restaurants could get away with charging twice the price and serving 1/4 of the portion. A great value at Los Andes!
Champinones Rellenos – These Andrean style mushrooms were stuffed with Ritz Crackers, choclo, fire roasted peppers, rocoto, queso blanco, and finished in a chimichurri butter (now that’s a mouthful!). The mushrooms were moist and actually had some slight texture (unlike most other stuffed caps). You could taste the Spanish and Italian influences with a South American twist. Honestly, I’m a fan of just about anything with Queso Blanco. So I was sold on this appetizer right away!
Envuelto de Pollo - I’m usually not one to order chicken at a restaurant…but I would make an exception for the Envuelto de Pollo. The star of the dish was the aji Amarillo cream sauce. It was thicker than your typical cream sauce, almost similar to a Bechamel. It was sweet and spicy and bursting with flavor from this Peruvian pepper.
Pescado a lo macho - Although this probably isn’t the prettiest plate you have ever seen, it was definitely a colossal bowl of seafood. The flavors were more mild than the previous dishes. It was simple, straightforward, and allowed the seafood to shine. My only disappointment was that all of the same fish appeared previously in the ceviche (which I suppose it not necessarily a bad thing). I just preferred the ceviche over my entree based on the preparation.
Flan - You can’t end this type of meal without some Flan in my opinion. Although they don’t make their desserts in house (the only thing they don’t make in house), it still tasted delicious to me. In fact, I’d love to know where they get it from so I can keep it in my fridge at all times.
We enjoyed our first experience tasting Peruvian and Bolivian cuisine. It’s a shame we hadn’t discovered Los Andes sooner. It’s truly a diamond in the rough. It is the type of place you may have driven by and failed to notice. Well, you should officially add it to your radar starting now. We would highly recommend that if you are nearby Chalkstone Avenue in Providence, that you make a special stop by Los Andes. And don’t forget to order the ceviche!