Last month, my weekly lunch partner and I decided it was time to take our continental culinary adventure to South America. It was a sunny day as we kept our eyes peeled for Andes Bar & Grill, which we knew was near the YWCA, but otherwise, we were just trying to see addresses.
Then all of a sudden, we saw the brightly painted company truck. It was gorgeous, full of rich reds, yellows and blues, which we would soon discover matches the restaurant’s interior. We made our way in through the antique wooden doors that framed stunning stained glass. Inside, the vibrant palette was every bit as impressive as the truck, which I now think fondly of as the Welcome Wagon.
The owner instantly greeted us, gently heading off his sweet server at the pass, noting that it must be our first visit and let us know he was happy to answer any questions. Our server finally made her way over to welcome us.
My friend still worries that I may have issues when we go to a restaurant with a meat-heavy menu, which is the case for Andes, after having been a vegetarian for a few decades. I reminded her that I’ve made my peace with being an omnivore and proceeded to scour the menu. And besides, I love any restaurant that encourages cracking an egg over any dish. That’s my kind of place.
We scoured the extensive menu, and I finally landed on the chorrillana, which is a steak dish that happens to feature an egg up top. The steak and egg normally rest atop a generous pile of french fries, which I had to forgo, due to my keto way of eating. The owner, Jorge, popped over to let me know I was ordering the national dish of Chile. He also happily offered to substitute beans for my abandoned French fries.
My friend ordered the chicharron criollo; perhaps better known as fried pork belly, which came with a side of hominy, green salsa, rice and beans. But make no mistake, the salty pork belly was the main attraction here.
Our orders arrived, and they were beautifully presented and smelled amazing. I instantly loved my dish. My friend hadn’t counted on the pork belly being quite so full of fat and was worried about her calorie budget for the day, even if she only ate a small portion. I figured that, with my keto diet, I can get away with it, so I offered to trade. Oh, I hated giving up my perfectly runny egg, but honestly, both dishes were so fantastic that it didn’t really matter.
I was as pleased with my switched dish as my original dish, and I’d order either again and again. That area of downtown is definitely experiencing a welcome dining boom, and Andes is a fine addition that is well worth a visit for the delicious food and warm and upbeat experience. Additional items to keep in mind include the margaritas from the full bar, empanadas, silpancho and plantains.
Andes Bar & Grill
79 S. 4th Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215