Andrade's Mexican Restaurant 

On one plate...

On one of my trips to Andrade's, I met a guy who also happened to be hungry, so I asked him to join me for this review. I don't normally eat with strangers, but I was pressed for time and had to scramble for a partner. Even though my surprise companion told me he's out frequently downtown, he hadn't eaten Mexican food in years and was excited at the prospect of trying something new.

After some discussion, the stranger agreed that we should try the tostada de ceviche for an appetizer. He was understandably wary of the marinating process that promises to "cook" the seafood, but his curiosity eventually prevailed. Ceviche used to be very difficult to find locally and despite its growing popularity, ceviche is still a statement dish for any authentic Mexican restaurant. Andrade's ceviche is made up of shrimp and crab prepared in a marinade of limejuice, cucumber, cilantro, onion and avocado. My companion thought the ceviche was spectacular, but admittedly his expectations were low. I had trouble tasting the cilantro and onions, and wished (as is so often the case) that the dish were spicier. I also found the crab to be a bit too chewy and its texture suspiciously seamless.

For entrees, the stranger ordered the Especial de Javier, and I requested the carne asada. The Especial consists of a lineup of tortillas stuffed with cheese, carne asada steak, guacamole, and pico de gallo. His dinner looked delicious, and the efficiency with which he finished the meal confirmed its favorable appearance. He commented on how agreeably hot everything tasted, including the Mexican potatoes. His steak was very tender, which provoked his interest in my meal. Indeed my carne asada was worthy of envy. The grilled, marinated skirt steak was lean and tender, despite being a thicker cut than that to which I'm accustomed. I was particularly pleased with the grilled onions, and only wished there were more to accompany every bite of the carne. Granted, I can be nihilistic when it comes to steak, but the accompanying potatoes, salad and beans might as well not have existed.

I enjoyed Andrade's, but I don't think it is the equal of the best Mexican restaurants to be found in Kuna, Caldwell and Nampa. My companion suggested that his meal was almost as satisfying as our unseasonably warm winter, which has afforded him a variety of places to sleep lately.

-Waj Nasser has never met a stranger.

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