Memory Lane at Andre’s

A no-frills spaghetti cafeteria that used to be in the South Bay still thrives elsewhere in LA.

Years back, my family frequented an Italian cafeteria in Westchester named Andre’s, part of a small chain in LA.

Located on Sepulveda Boulevard, it closed sometime in the mid ‘90s and over the years, I really missed the taste of the place.

For those in the lower parts of the South Bay, Andre’s spaghetti sauce and the cheese bread served was very close in taste to Vince’s, a Torrance spaghetti restaurant which also closed down after decades of business. Both were fairly inexpensive Italian fare compared to the Olive Garden and much easier to dine in.

Recently, I had to do some business in the Miracle Mile section of LA and saw Andre’s was still around, nestled in a Kmart parking lot across from the upscale Grove outdoor mall.

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Beer and other drinks are at the front of the cafeteria, so don’t forget that or the silverware. Dig the comical artwork and puns along the short line.

Is it still comparable to Vince’s or my memory of food back in the 1990s?

For those with a yearning for the taste of Vince’s or Andre’s, it’s worth the pilgrimage.

The best thing about this cafeteria is the price of the food, and its quantity. A “small” portion of spaghetti, a slice of pepperoni pizza, a cup of minestrone soup, cheese bread and a can of root beer came in at just over $11, and it was enough to fill a big guy like me easily.

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This could be considered the basic four food groups of Italian food. Next time I might go for sausage, lamb shank or chicken in mushroom sauce instead of the pizza.
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A close-up of Andre’s star, the thick helping of spaghetti in meat sauce.

The spaghetti is still the real deal and the star attraction. It’s definitely not store brand meat sauce. Marinara and mushroom sauces are available as substitutes.

The downer was the pizza. Doughy and bland.

I would skip the pizza and go for the chicken in mushroom sauce. I called it chicken marsala in the cafeteria line and the staff was confused. This wasn’t the only time I had them in shock; I later ordered spumoni at the gelato stand and must have been the first person in ages to ask for it as a bloke had to go in the back and bring out a half-empty box of it.

Not bad dessert by the way; the $3 gelato is a great chaser after the meal and it can be served on a cone or in a cup.

It is also a lot busier though than its Westchester incarnation. A Yelp review mentioned it’s not easy to find good spaghetti for under $10, which makes it popular with the locals, and it was three-quarters full at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday.

My father recalled being there a decade ago and waited in a line past the patio entrance, bringing up memories of waiting to get into Vegas buffets on Thanksgiving.

Be prepared for the possibility of lines and also, bring cash – Andre’s does not take credit cards.

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Andre’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria is located at 6332 W. 3rd St. in Los Angeles. It is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily. This is a cash-only restaurant. Phone: (323) 935-1246. Website: andresitalian.com. For some background information, an article by the Beverly Press on Andre’s is here.

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