Probably the best reason to set foot in the Pearl District, Andina serves up dishes that are as superb as they are unusual. While Portland is rife with praiseworthy Euro-Northwest restaurants, there’s little Peruvian fare, and Andina stands a head taller than the best of its scant competition. Though its meat-starch-veggie entrees are reliably excellent, and everyone should try the potato-and-cheese timbales that accompany Andina’s rack of lamb once, it’s more fun to stick to seafood-heavy tapas, available in small, medium and large portions. Try a half avocado stuffed with crab and prawns, the creamy green flesh a perfect vehicle for the shellfish. A puddle of garlic-lime butter leaks from plump diver scallops, seared nutty brown top and bottom. The meaty bite of grilled octopus is deftly accented by rocoto-and-caper chimichurri. But no visit is complete without a taste of Andina’s anticucho de corazon: rare-grilled beef heart, tender and flavorful as fine steak, and dipped in huacatay-peanut sauce.
Order this: Beef heart, it’s what’s for dinner.
Best deal: $4 happy-hour skewers.
I’ll pass: Cured tuna loin was dry and salty, especially compared with the fresh, bright flavors of most of the menu.