Group deal sites make a food blogger’s life so much easier. This visit to Andres Restaurant was inspired by 2 things. 1) I got a Groupon to make visiting easier on the wallet and 2) Jake and I have a friend who visited us from Florida last summer (Hi Chris!) who is Cuban and I was interested in trying out some Cuban food and possibly taking him to this restaurant when he visits us again!
My friend, Laura, was also interested in trying out this restaurant. She has heard about it from a few friends and co-workers but was never able to find the restaurant. When looking up the address, I noticed this was on Morena Blvd. and that there’s actually a Morena Blvd. and a West Morena Blvd. I don’t know how we’ve both lived here our whole lives and never noticed that before! I always assumed that it was the same street! Ah, you learn new things every day.
We ended up going to Andres Restaurant for Laura’ birthday last month, along with our friend, Julia and Laura’s sister and her friend. We had a nice cozy little party! Though I made reservations for our party earlier in the day, a table was not already set up for us and we had to wait a few minutes to be seated. They specifically had a bring in a table from somewhere else to set up a spot for us since the place was packed!
Once we were seated, we were brought some complimentary Garlic Bread. This was a basket of bread with olive oil and garlic on it. Most of the bread slices on the bottom did not have any olive oil or garlic stuff on them so I think they toss bread in a basket and pour oil and garlic over the top. A little different from other places that give you complimentary bread. I just wished for more garlic and it to be on all of the pieces.
One thing I knew I really wanted to order were these Potato Balls / Papas Rellenas ($5.95). I’ve read about them on other blogs (from a Cuban bakery in LA) and I’ve really been wanting to try them since! These are potatoes (mashed, I believe) filled with a seasoned ground beef filling in the middle. There’s a light coating around the potato ball and it’s fried and then served.
Here is a look at the Potato Ball’s innards. There’s quite a lot of ground beef in the middle, making this a meaty appetizer. I liked the crunch from the outer texture and then the taste of the smooth potato layer. The ground beef was spiced with a variety of seasonings making this a flavorful appetizer. The mix of textures – crunchy and creamy – made me really like this.
We also ordered a Tomato Salad with onions and olive oil ($5.95) to share between us. Little did we know that that actually meant a tomato only salad. We were thinking of a regular salad, with lettuce! Originally we wanted an Avocado Salad, but they were out of avocado (I would have loved that, especially if it had just been a bunch of avocado!). We got over our surprise of the tomato only salad and shared it between us. I just ate one slice of the tomato with a few onions. I don’t think there’s much to say about a plate of tomatoes. I later told my friend, Chris, about the tomato salad and he laughed and said, “Yep, it’s just tomatoes!”. I should have consulted him before our visit!
This is Laura’s entree – a combination plate with Pierna De Puerco and Macitas de Puerco ($15.95) which has 2 types of pork and ripe plantains, moros rice and Yuca con mojo. I had a small piece of her pork which I thought was pretty good.
Laura’s sister’s friend (oy, I forgot her name!) got this dish – Arroz con Calamares ($13.95): Exotic black rice and tenderly sautéed strips of squid are blended with green pepper, garlic, onions and served with plantains. Laura was originally going to order this but the waiter warned her that it might not be what she thought it would be and that it is a spicy dish and Laura opted to try something else. We all tried the dish though and I had a few spoonfuls of it. The calamari is cut up pretty fine and is hard to distinguish in the dish when you glance at it, but it’s definitely in there. It was a bit spicy and I could see how a lot of people wouldn’t like it, but I actually enjoyed the flavor of it. I wouldn’t want a whole plate of this as my only entree though, but having a little side portion of it was enjoyable. It’s rich, a bit spicy with a nice squid/calamari hint in each bite.
This is what I ordered: Bistec Empanizado ($14.95) – Cuban-style breaded top sirloin steak that came with rice and a side of black beans (sorry, not pictured). This dish was crunchy (I love crunchy things) and the steak itself was quite thin, probably to make for faster cooking. A few bits were a bit overcooked, but overall I liked the steak. I was kind of wishing for a sauce of some kind to compliment the meat, but there wasn’t any. After eating and eating it, it started to taste a bit dry to me, which is why I was craving a sauce of some kind. Oh well. I ended up spooning beans onto my rice to give the rice a little more flavor as well (I’m personally not a huge fan of plain white rice). While I did like this dish, I wasn’t in love with it and would be more keen on trying something else on another visit.
1235 Morena Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92110