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Los Andes brings Bolivian bites to Providence

With most meals under $20, patrons can get a taste of South America on Federal Hill

Those who feel the Sharpe Refectory has dulled their taste buds should make the trek to Los Andes, where Peruvian meets Bolivian and flavor meets generosity.

A casual passerby might mistake Los Andes for a low-rent incubator of food poisoning, but as all true Providence residents know, exteriors can be misleading. Entering the restaurant, visitors realize they have stumbled into a place of family reunions, community gatherings, first dates and anniversaries — a neighborhood spot.

Though most patrons of Los Andes seem to know Peruvian and Bolivian food like the backs of their hands, the staff takes pride in explaining each element on the extensive menu to newcomers.

The restaurant’s menu features a weekly list of chef’s choices that provide an easy guide to the wide variety of offerings. While not necessarily the most affordable options on the menu, the list’s selections prove the Providence chef’s expertise in crafting the cuisines of Peru and Bolivia.

This week the chef is offering a veal entree and a swordfish dish as well as a grilled chicken served in a cognac sauce and a baked lobster paella. The star of this eclectic dish is a half-pound  Maine lobster, but chicken, clams, mussels, squid, chorizo and shrimp also play feature roles.

The prices at Los Andes can be disappointing — the lobster paella costs almost $40 — but the portions are generous and the food better than anything on Atwells Avenue, the Federal Hill strip where Brown students often venture for a meal off campus. The vast majority of entrees cost less than $15 — a reasonable price for a hearty meal. But restaurant-goers may be tempted to order a few glasses of the well-known sangria, which can break a tight budget.

If you want to go to Los Andes — as you should — and are watching your wallet, split the ceviche appetizer and paella entree. The ceviche will wake you up, teasing you with evocative bites of tilapia, squid, shrimp and mussels bathed in a lemon sauce that will restore color to your face. The restaurant’s classic paella, which combines chorizo, chicken, squid, mussels, littleneck clams and shrimp in a piping hot bowl of rice, will remind you what it feels like to be full and happy.

Two typical diners can have a good-sized meal for about $10 each. If ocean-dwellers don’t tickle your fancy, the Pacumuto — a shish kebab with beef, chicken, chorizo, peppers and onions — will not let you down.

The wisest visitors to Los Andes know they can trust the waiters and chefs who work there for foolproof advice. Take the 31 bus from Kennedy Plaza for a 10-minute ride, walk one block and eat what your waiter puts in front of you.

Los Andes is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.



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