The now controversial animated cartoon figure, Speedy Gonzales, is a memory from my childhood of watching Looney Tunes television shows on Saturday mornings in my pajamas and clutching a box of cereal. His famous phrase “andale, andale, ariba, ariba!” remains in my head to this very day. The flashback came to me as I stepped inside Andale’s Mexican and Spanish Cuisine on West Broadway for a quick take out lunch recently. With not much time to spare, I was indeed hoping it would live up to its name and be fast, though I certainly had some trepidations about the authenticity and quality.
Deciding to play it safe just to be sure, and to get something filling and easy to take away, my first choice was a beef burrito with what they called a “colorado sauce”. It was a good sized, soft flour tortilla stuffed with a thick combination of beef and shredded sauteed onions. The entire package was dredged in a slightly thick but mainly watery consistency brown sauce, almost gravy like. It was totally missing any heat or depth of flavor, which threw me as I expected something I’ve had elsewhere with a sauce named similar to this one, which had red chilies in it.
As a result, the flavors were dependent on the bland burrito contents, and to make things worse, the whole thing was getting quite soggy from the sauce as I got about halfway through. The accompanying black beans were also really dull and tasteless.
The chicken quesadilla was not much better, in fact, I think I preferred the beef burrito. The fillings of cheese and chicken breast meat were again not really seasoned well, missing a strong semblance of heat as well. The slices were also draped in what was supposed to be an ancho sauce minus the heat, as all I could really taste was some onions and garlic, along with some herbs like cumin and oregano. Again, your run-of-the-mill quesadilla that could have been made in any of the city’s chain restaurants, or even at home by a half-decent home cook. The same forgettable black beans that came with the buritto were here again.
Both items came with a small mixed salad, but the take-out packs did not have any side portions of rice, or the free chips and salsa that were available through dine-in.
I’m not sure what the city’s best options are for true Mexican food, but this clearly was not it – just generalized, simplified, and taste-reduced Tex-Mex to me. It made me long for the great meals I had at the home of an old college classmate from Mexico, who first introduced me to the cuisine of his country a decade ago.
As a positive, I’ll say it was fast, coming out of the kitchen ten to fifteen minutes after the order was placed. The sunny day brought out the patio lovers (mostly business lunches it seemed), but the inside was completely dead. I am curious what its like at night, both in terms of the clientele, the atmosphere (maybe the darkness hides some of the dreary and tacky symbolic plastic beer bottles handing from the ceiling, or the wall of sombreros tacked to it), and of course the food. If none of it seems any better, I’ll be outta there faster than my old pal, “the fastest mouse in all of Mexico”!
Andale’s Mexican and Spanish Cuisine
3211 West Broadway
Tel: (604) 738-9782