atching restaurants open in London is a bit like being at secondary school. Something new gets introduced, and everyone from national papers to bloggers to your mate who hashtags their food pics with #noms is all over it like Gretchen Wieners with a horrible case of FOMO.
That was the case with Ceviche when they started serving excellent Peruvian food in Soho in 2012, until everyone decided to move onto the new thing, and it was somewhat similar with Casita Andina, which opened from the same owners in 2016. But thinking of Casita Andina as a one-time fad would be a mistake - this is a restaurant you should be returning to.
Casita Andina serves modern takes on Peruvian dishes, which means you’ll find things like a seafood chupa (chowder) remixed and presented as an attractive dish topped with fat prawns, or a traditional ceviche with interesting additions like pork dashi. Even straightforward, familiar dishes like lamb loin are taken to a new level with the addition of Peruvian spices. Wash all of it down with a few pisco sours, and you’re in business.
The vibe here is upbeat without feeling too crazy - you could happily bring a few mates to Casita Andina for a lively night, or for a date with someone that you already know you click with. The setup of the restaurant in a narrow Soho townhouse is interesting too, as squeezing through the tight stairways or popping onto the small outdoor terrace makes you feel like you’re in on a good time that most of the city hasn’t cottoned onto yet.
The fact that the majority of people haven’t cottoned onto it is a good thing. It nails so many of the elements that make for a good night out in Soho, and we’re cool with people queueing for kati rolls and toaster strudels if it means that we can walk straight in and grab a table here. Don’t tell Gretchen.
In this city, if you ever have the opportunity to eat a good tamale, jump all over that sucker. Don’t share it.
They’ve infused cubes of watermelon cubes with chilli, and topped it off with a lemony dressing and some quinoa. Despite sounding a bit strange, it’s incredibly refreshing.
For anyone new to Peruvian food, we’d definitely suggest starting here. The house ceviche is slices of raw seabass marinated in a citrus dressing that very lightly ‘cooks’ the fish. It’s light and punchy, with the chunky pieces of fish working great with the crunch from the little pieces of corn. There is also avocado.
Little cubes of raw trout with a sharp dressing, salty little dollops of trout caviar, and sweet potatoes. A nice option if you want some more raw fish.
If you’re in a big group, make sure there’s at least one of these per two people, as it’s weird trying to slice up a single prawn to share. It’s essentially a traditional seafood stew that they’ve presented beautifully, with a sliced section of corn to get your teeth into. The sauce has serious flavour.
This has stayed on the menu since the restaurant opened for a reason. You can be healthy and happily eat vegan, pescatarian, or gluten-free at Casita (Peruvian food is great for all of these), or you could just order a fatty, salty piece of meat that tastes awesome. Your call.
This dish is a fun take on strawberries and cream. There’s avocado literally all over the menu, but here it’s included for texture. It’s a nice way to finish your meal.