It’s winter in San Diego, (which doesn’t mean much if you’re from somewhere that has actual seasons, but it’s winter nonetheless). For us San Diegans, that means we’re going to wear parkas in 60 degree weather, and still be cold(well, maybe that’s just me). However, I find that it IS possible to stave off some of that winter chill. All you have to do is go someplace warm and tropical. In your head, of course.
It’s much easier to do this in a tropical setting; say, a Caribbean setting. If you’re cold and hungry, the best places to get that tropical vibe would be two of San Diego’s best restaurants of the Caribbean, Cuban restaurant Andre’s and Jamaican restaurant Island Spice. Yes, these places have everything you need to get away from winter for a while, and eat something delicious while you’re at it.
These restaurants have two things in common that don’t have to do with the food, and that would be their hole-in-the-wall-ness, and their locations. These two great restaurants are most likely passed over by the usual tourist because they are not in your typical, touristy neighborhoods. So, if you are getting tired of the usual, tourist-packed, crowded side of San Diego, these two places will refresh you.
Now, let’s talk food. Both Andre’s and Island Spice have dishes that are fabulously delicious, juicy, and brimming with flavor. The food has that clear-your-plate-even-though-you-were-full-twenty-minutes-ago quality to it. You know what I mean.
This family owned and operated Cuban restaurant and Latin Market was established in 1983, and has been a local favorite ever since. Andre’s is never too crowded, with a large, comfortable dining area. The food is consistently good, and though I’m not an expert, it seems authentic. The service is hospitable, but be prepared to wait a bit. Remember, you’re on island time! The food is definitely worth the wait, and Andre’s is a nice place to sit and relax with friends or on a date. With the tropical ambiance, black and white pictures of Cuba on the wall, and the humble simplicity of the place, it’s easy to forget the hustle of the holiday season and let yourself drift away to Cuba. The food helps too. Tender and flavorful beef and chicken, enhanced with rich sauces simmered with garlic, onions, and different spices; delicious seafood entrees, made with authentic Caribbean ingredients and original recipes. Eating at Andre’s is reminiscent of delicious home cooking that can only be experienced every once and a while, like when you’re at a friend’s grandmothers house or visiting a far away family member, you can tell it was cooked with care; with a loving respect for the place or person that the recipe came from.
• the Weekday Specials (a new special every day of the week)
• Arroz con Pollo/Picadillo
• Plantanos maderas (plantains)
• Ropa Vieja (shredded beef dish)
Walk into Island Spice and get transported instantly to an especially beautiful island way of life. You can see palm trees and tropical plants as you walk in. The ocean and the island of Jamaica are painted in beautiful murals on the walls. The smell of fried plantains and spices fill your nostrils, and you already feel warmer. An island vibe takes over as you walk to the bamboo counter and say hello to the friendly staff, and order your meal. Sit down and look at hanging Jamaican flags; cute placemats with a map of Jamaica let your eyes do the travelling as you wait for your meal. It comes faster than you expect. You notice the tenderness of the meat as it falls off the bone, and the deep, velvety sauces rich with spices and island flavors. Your giant portion includes rice, beans, mixed veggies, and delicious plantains. You sit back; enjoy your meal and the simple pleasures of life, all at an island pace. There’s no hurry. Your troubles and thoughts of the cold winter outside disappear with every bite, and you leisurely pass the time, enjoying the little things and laughing with friends, each of you escaping into your own island dream.
• Jerk Chicken
• Fried plantains
• BBQ Chicken
• Curry Chicken
• Bottled Jamaican Sodas (especially guava)
Address: 1235 Morena Blvd. San Diego CA, 92110
Phone: (619) 275- 4114
Hours of Operation: Monday through Thursday – 11:00am – 8:30pm
Friday & Saturday – 11:00am – 9:00pm
Sunday – 11:00am – 5:00pm
Address: 2820 Market St. San Diego, CA 92102(between 28th and 29th)
Phone: (619) 702 – 9309
Hours of Operation: Monday through Saturday – 9:30am – 8:00pm
Sunday: 9:30am – 6:00pm
Delivery Hours: Sunday – 10am – 5pm
Monday through Saturday – 10am – 6:30pm