After passing Andre's Patio Restaurant on Morena Boulevard hundreds of times we finally decided to drop by during the past weekend to grab some Cuban Food for lunch:
The restaurant was fairly empty except for a family of 8 having a large lunch and another couple at a nearby table. After looking at the reasonably priced menu we ordered a few "standard" Cuban dishes to get our bearings.
We started with 1 Cheese ($1.50) and 1 Beef ($1.75) Empanada:
This was a rather inauspicious start, as the Empanadas were pretty soggy. The Cheese Empanada was especially bland. We soaked the empanadas in Habanero Hot Sauce in order to make them palatable, and didn't even finish the cheese empanada. I was starting to write this place off when the Yuca con Mojo arrived, and not a moment too soon:
This wonderfully flavored dish is delicious simplicity at it's best. Simmered Yuca is served with a slightly citrusy Garlic-Herb Olive Oil, very similar to Mojo Criollo(Spanish Garlic Sauce). If you've never had yuca, it will fool you the first time you eat it. As you initially bite into the yuca, the texture is like potato; but as you bite further you realize how really dense and starchy this tuber is. Dipped into the garlic oil, it is simply delici-yoso dense and starchy goodness.
The Missus ordered the standard Cuban beef dish Ropa Vieja ($8.95):
Literally translated as "old clothes" Ropa Vieja is beef that is stewed with onions and other herbs in a tomato based, wine "sauce", then shredded. The result here is a very tender, flavorful, and rich dish. Served with nice fragrant rice and velvety black beans, that were a bit too loose, almost like a bean soup, though the flavor was nice and mild. Altogether this is what I would consider to be a very pleasant home style meal. The portion size was excellent, and I enjoyed the "peas" as well.
I ordered the usual Cuban Sandwich ($6.95):
A classic " sandwich mixto" is a pressed roast pork, ham, swiss cheese, and dill pickle sandwich, served on "Cuban Bread", and "pressed". This process creates a very crisp crust, with a somewhat gooey interior. Though this sandwich did not really meet all the criteria, it was still good. The outer portion was crusty, and the combination of flavors were excellent. The funny thing with this sandwich is that if you remove the components and tasted each individually, you really wouldn't think much of it. It's the sum of all the ingredients that makes this sandwich, and creates a nice texture and taste. I don't think the "classic" Cuban Sandwich includes mustard, but it sure worked here.
Andre's food and atmosphere does create the relaxing impression that you are just enjoying a nice homemade meal. The service, though not very friendly, and a bit on the slow side, was adequate, and I think we will be back soon. It seems that Andre's is doing pretty good business, they are expanding into the space next door, creating a larger space that looks much more refined, though I think I enjoy the casual "patio" space.
Andre's Cuban Restaurant
1235 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110