[¡HOLA! PERU] Andina can be outright deafening when the place is packed, but it’s packed for a reason—this sprawling Peruvian palace has one of the most interesting menus in town, and really top-notch waiters. Likewise, the kitchen crew’s swiftness and consistency in cooking for crowds (Andina has multiple private dining rooms) from a big, complex menu verges on miraculous. While waiting for appetizers, my dining companion tried a Cristal, a Peruvian lager, while I sipped a potently refreshing Açaipirinha (a traditional caipirinha with puree of açai berries). It’s not unusual to make a meal of appetizers at Andina; the three we ordered were ample for sharing. Conchas a la parilla, grilled diver scallops with garlic lime butter sauce and crispy onions, and causa/mixta nikkei, lime-infused mashed potato cake with spicy tuna, crab salad and crispy shrimp, definitely rang our chimes; the yuca filled with Velveeta-esque cheese, not so much. But I was very happy with my “Novo-Andean” entree, atun con tacu-tacu y aguaymanto: seared yellowfin tuna with orange-endive salsa criolla and gooseberries (yep, gooseberries do grow in the Andes), laid over a lentil-rice patty. As for dessert, it was no afterthought—the mousse de valle y selva, a delectable semifreddo layered with chocolate ganache, lucuma-fruit-and-espresso mousse and cacao nib meringue, still haunts my waistline. ANGIE JABINE.
Ideal meal: Quinoa salad with cotija cheese, avocado, and olive; “catch of the day” ceviche; and duck breast and confit with rice and vegetables.
Best deal: Try the lunch entree of pulled chicken in a yellow chili pepper-peanut cream sauce with yellow potatoes, rice, Botija olives, and hard-boiled egg.
11:30 am-2:30 pm daily, 4-9:30 pm Sunday-Thursday, 4-10:30 pm Friday-Saturday. $$$