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Recent Dining Experience at Candela

May 3, 2009

Some of my peeps (yes, I’m hip enough to use the word ‘peeps’) and I went to Candela on Oracle near Rudasill this past week. It’s a family-owned place that feels very warm and welcoming when you get there. The decor is a little spare, but the friendliness of the people there more than make up for that. They provide Peruvian food, which is nothing al all like anything else you would find in Tucson (or at least that I have found).

So I got there late (which is another story altogether), and my entree had already been ordered for me. I didn’t actually know what I was getting until it got there, which was both good and bad – I didn’t make everyone wait for me, but I didn’t get a chance to look through the menu at all. The other downside to being late was that my ‘friends’ ate all of the banana chips and spicy salsa that were brought to the table. They didn’t even leave me one! To make it worse, they didn’t even mention that anything preceded my arrival. I only found out when I saw them bringing the little baskets to other tables. I asked our server about them, and she brought me a few after we were done with our meal so that I could give them a try. I really appreciated them doing that, so even though I was pretty stuffed already I ate them all up. They were perfect: crispy, with a piquant bright green salsa to go with them.

For my dinner, I was surprised with Bistek al Pobre: a cut of flank steak (I think) with an herb slurry on top (wait – ‘slurry’ doesn’t sound appetizing, does it?). It reminded me a little of a chimichurri, but it was a little brighter than that. It was served with a few thick-cut fried potatoes, fried plantain, and white rice. The rice was topped with an over-medium fried egg, which caught me a little off guard, but the egg and the rice together turned out to be surprisingly good. The flavor of the steak was great, but the texture left a little to be desired. It was a little tough and stringy, which detracted from the dish overall. The sides were cooked perfectly, though.

The other dish I got to try was very tasty. It was something like Aji de pollo, but I’m suffering from not having seen the menu. It was shredded chicken breast in a sauce that was both creamy and spicy. It was either cream or sour cream based, with what I would guess to be ground almond, and chile of some sort (wow – I hope they don’t read this blog posting and tell me that I have it all wrong!). It was tangy, and spicy, and creamy, and really tasty. I could have eaten every bite that was on that plate, and then ordered more.

Except that I couldn’t really have ordered more, because the place is pricey. Our dinner for four (four entrees, two glasses of wine, and three beers), came out to $112.00 before the tip. Frankly, that seemed like more than it should have been.

Even though it was expensive, I’d go back for the distinctive flavors and warm hospitality.

Candela doesn’t have a website (that I could find), but you can see some other reviews and a map at

Candela Restaurant Latin American Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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