El Perro Andaluz is one of Córdoba’s best kept secrets. To get to the hidden gem, you have to enter through the front door of the equally esteemed restaurant, La Boca. Once inside, push the door that leads to the bathrooms, and you’ll find a corridor that opens up into a plant-filled patio. You’ll usually find a few friends gathered around the patio’s high tables, sipping on champagne amongst the greenery. This peaceful patio is where you’ll see the entrance to El Perro Andaluz.
The restaurant has become one of the staple locations for our weekly menú del día outings. The menú del día is not to be confused with a normal American menu. A Spanish menú is a special deal, usually comprised of three courses--a starter, entrée, and dessert--for a very reasonable price (plus a free drink). La carta is what you ask for if you want to see the list of permanent dishes. At Perro Andaluz, the menú del día is only 10 euros, which is basically a steal.
The interior decor makes the outing feel even more special. At first glance, the space seems petite and a bit cramped. But turn the corner right around the bar and you’ll quickly see it’s much larger than it seems, with several separate rooms. Reminiscent of the French Riviera, the space is complete with simple, rustic furnishing. We sat window-side at a round wooden table, blue paint chipping off, surrounded by deco you’d find at grandma’s house and strokes of sunlight peeking in.
Our waitress recounted the menu to us in Spanish. Don’t get me wrong, my Spanish has improved exponentially since moving here, but there are definitely some culinary expressions that can get lost in translation. This is what I heard: a lentil dahl (wow, yum), a savory cheesecake (hmm...), and an oreo dessert with cream (yes please). As an occasional partaker in cheesecake, my doubts about what a savory cheesecake would taste like trumped my interest in the other two dishes--so I peeped at the carta.
Perusing the carta, I was transported all over the world by the menu. Get a taste of China with bao buns, Japan with ramen, England with fish and chips, and even the southern United States with a delicious-sounding Po’Boy. Ultimately, I settled on tacos and udon to share with my compañeras.
The udon arrived first, with steam billowing out of the brown take-out box. Hardly taking more than a second to appreciate the creative presentation, we dug our chopsticks in. The first bite was a whirlwind of flavors. Teriyaki, garlic, and basil hints complemented the fresh shrimp and squid. The noodles almost teetered on the edge of too salty, but thankfully remained on the safe side. Cue our chopsticks scraping the sides of the box to hopefully pick up any remaining sauce and scraps.
Then came the tacos. ‘Bulltacos’--mini flour tortillas filled with Córdoba’s famous braised oxtail (rabo de toro), guacamole, and pico. All was going great until I saw it. I pulled the taco down from my mouth to the plate, and I saw it peeking out of the edges of tortilla--the Spanish equivalent of a Kraft Cheddar Singles slice. The cheese I grew up on. Now when I looked down at it...processed, bright orange, and certainly not melted, I felt a twinge of distaste for the taco. My perfectly nice taco had now been knocked down a few notches in the ranks because of one slice of cheese.
I found myself a victim of restaurant regret. I envied the diverse menu my friends were enjoying. A creamy, spiced lentil dahl, and the most heavenly slice of “savory cheesecake” (AKA quiche) I’ve ever had. It was so enticing that we couldn’t even wait to take a picture of it--and that’s rare. It was creamy, blue cheesy, and whipped to perfection. Seriously, that was the best quiche I’ve ever tasted.
After the entrees, I had to join the menú train. I put in my order for the same oreo dessert and waited with silent satisfaction. Once the dessert came, my brows furrowed. This pile of pink cream with a singular oreo to the side was not what I had in mind. Nevertheless, I dug in once again, trying to scoop up a piece of oreo with each bite. It was a...meh dessert.
Moral of the story, never be scared to try something that sounds scary (like savory cheesecake) and don’t order something just because everyone else is. Adventurous eating is the best kind of eating. And Perro Andaluz, don’t worry, you’re still one of my fav spots--I already have reservations to come back this Friday to try this week’s menú.