It only took one summer of selling Venezuelan fare in Hayes Valley for chef Victoria Lozano to decide the neighborhood was perfect for her. She brought her pop-up Andina to SFJAZZ Center-adjacent space B-Side for a summer residency, and guests took to it like so many ducks to water. Now, she’s joined forces with B-Side to co-run the location for good. “It makes me really happy,” Lozano says. “When I first moved to the United States I lived [in Hayes Valley] and I never imagined owning a restaurant.”
As of December 3, the La Cocina graduate will ring in her grand opening as a permanent resident at 201 Franklin Street, inside the original B-Side location. Latin music band Bululú will show up for a two-hour-long brunch party to kick things off. Lozano is handling the kitchen and food while the B-Side team runs the bar. Upon opening — technically in September as the residency rolled over into a lease — Andina is operating as a fast-casual lunch, dinner, and happy hour destination, with a mighty weekend brunch, to boot. Yes, Lozano’s eye-catching arepas are the main character here, with seven flavors ranging from slow-roasted pork pernil to vegan black bean riffs.
The menu isn’t enormous but is a dense set of what makes Andina a fan favorite: fried, rich corn-based delights. In addition to all those arepas, the new? expanded menu adds rice bowls and a robust set of dinner items to the list. That includes vuelve a la vida, a sort of seafood cocktail served with plantain chips, and cochino frito, a Spanish and Portuguese-originated fried pork dish. Brunch is all new food, too, showcasing Lozano’s cachapas — a sweet corn pancake topped with soft white cheese and salted butter — and pastelitos andinos de guayaba, or fried wheat turnovers filled with cheese and guava. Desserts are not to be slept on and include tres leches cakes and Ghirardelli chocolate-stuffed galletas. Lozano says that with a full kitchen, she can offer all the Venezuelan food she loves, showcasing unique and various dishes.
Lozano has come a long way to this opening. She grew up in the Andes mountains of Venezuela and moved to the United States in 2017 as a political asylee alongside her sister. She worked as a pastry chef at Absinthe in Hayes Valley before losing her job in 2020 to the pandemic, making this opening a homecoming of sorts. The pandemic was when she started selling food out of her house to make a bit of money with her family members; it was in 2022 that she realized she wanted to launch Andina as a full-on business.
Her work inspires many, not least of all her father who launched paella pop-up Caldero in April 2023. Their family is still partially in Venezuela and partially in the United States, with the original Caldero — a family restaurant in Rubio, Venezuela — sitting empty but fully furnished after shutting down in 2018 due to hyperinflation and food shortages. Looking ahead, she’s glad to think she can provide jobs for her family. Three of her relatives are sponsored to work for her at Andina, a safe space for not only the community and her family but all Venezuelan immigrants in the Bay Area. “I’m exhausted. It’s a lot of work,” Lozano says, “but it’s a dream come true. Venezuelans come here after a month of crossing the border and say they feel home.”
Andina (201 Franklin Street) is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday through Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and for brunch on Sautday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.