Andrés Carne de Res
Andrés, Andrés, Andrés.
What to say? How to express? I honestly think I’d do a better job dancing about architecture than writing about Andrés Carne de Res. At least then I could deploy a few of the sweet-ass interpretive dance moves I’ve cultivated over many, er, inspired nights with my best lady-friends.
Here are the facts:
A fellow named Andrés set up a roadside shack with a grill and not much else in 1986, and he’s built it into a sprawling firetrap of a restaurant that serves something like 3,000 people on a busy weekend day. It’s about an hour outside Bogota, in Chia, a little town-of-sorts that only exists because of the success of the restaurant. It has city outposts in Bogota and Miami, and there’s even an outrageously shameless knockoff in Queens called El Rancho De Andres Carne Des Tres (I see what you did there).
But that only tells you that it’s huge, and it’s popular, and it’s legendary.
What it doesn’t tell you is that the food is way better than it needs to be — we had excellent chicarrones (fried pig’s skin), mojitos and fruit juices in gourds half as big as my head (that’s very big), michaladas with all the fixings (even limes you squeeze yourself), barely-seared Argentinian beef that you finish yourself on a scorching-hot plancha, and so, so, SO much more.
What it also doesn’t tell you is that it just looks so stunning. Everything is recycled or upcycled — pot-tops become platters, spoons are fashioned into handles of the signature glass mugs. There are whimsical details in literally every available space. Even the water bottles are decorated. It is as visually mind-boggling as the City Museum in St. Louis. Both are wildly, proudly, exuberantly unique. Both look more like waking dreams than a museum or a restaurant. Both make you smile wide.
And then there is the children’s area, where little ones run free, doted on by waiters dressed as fairies and pirates….
And there is the cooking and the cleaning, happening all around you, in spaces that are loud and hot and vibrant….
And the line-dancing and the live music and the costumes and the characters….
And the quiet spot across the street with hammocks where you’re invited to sleep off the booze while waiters bring you a little get-well packet of coffee, Alka-Setlzer, and for all I know, another michelada….
I could go on but it’s probably best if you see for yourself.
(Maybe next time I’ll just dance about it for you — so long as I have one of those mojitos first.)