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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 21, 2001

Dining Scene
Andy's healthy fare keeps crowds coming

By Matthew Gray
Advertiser Restaurant Critic

Andy Rodrigues prepares a bowl of soup at his Manoa restaurant, Andy's Sandwiches & Smoothies. The restaurant offers an array of fresh, low-fat, high-fiber foods.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

Andy's Sandwiches & Smoothies

2904 East Manoa Road

Breakfast: 7-10:30 a.m. weekdays, 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sundays

Sandwiches and snacks:

7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays (closed Saturdays)



Andy Rodrigues could be named the Manoa Earl of Sandwich. But unlike John Montagu (1718-1792), fourth Earl of Sandwich, who invented the sandwich because he refused to leave the gambling table for a proper meal, Rodrigues is a working man. He is an expert on Montagu's invention, which made its way to the United States in the 1820s and became an American staple in the 1900s, when soft, white bread became widely available.

Rodrigues and his wife of 34 years, Norma, have been running Andy's Sandwiches & Smoothies on East Manoa Road since 1977. In the past 24 years, they have seen a generation of families, friends and other businesses come and go.

"We're not survivors," Rodrigues says. "We're thrivers." One reason for their success is that they cater to a group often ignored in local restaurants: folks who are looking for fresh, low-fat, high-fiber foods, meatless meals and a focus on fruits and vegetables.

In front of Andy's is a small stand of fresh fruit: bananas, papayas, oranges, pineapples. Inside is a casual smattering of tables, a pastry display case, a refrigerated beverage area, some vitamins for sale and in the back, the counter area where it all happens.

Andy's smoothies, which have been adopted by people who eat to live and not the other way around, are a thick, sweet and healthful treat. I enjoy them with food, but many fans of the Hi-Pro Smoothie ($3.50) use the drink as a meal replacement. It contains protein powder, peanut butter, bananas and apple juice. Strawberries-n-cream ($3.50) combines strawberries, bananas and coconut milk. There are about 20 different kinds of smoothies and other blended drinks here. They even carry one of my favorite non-alcoholic beverages, Reed's Ginger Beer, a very intense soft drink that is the mature distant cousin of ginger ale.

But sandwiches are the ticket here, and they're off to a good start with Andy's homemade whole wheat bread. It's soft, fresh and just right for sandwiches. All the sandwiches come with shredded carrots, lettuce and sprouts unless you specify otherwise. And there's no set menu. Signs on the wall colorfully tout all the possible combinations of vegetables, meats and cheeses. The vast majority of items here are vegetarian choices, but you still can order a made-on-the-premises turkey sandwich with tomato ($3.50), or with cheese, avocado, tomato and cucumber ($4.10). They also offer roast beef ($3.99) and chicken burgers ($3.45).

The Ahi Melt ($6.50) is a great choice, unlike most fish-based sandwiches I've tasted. At Andy's, they use a smoked 'ahi spread that's rich and creamy, topped with slices of fresh mushroom, tomato and melted cheese. This is one you'll come back for. The Manoa Delite ($4.85) layers ripe and buttery avocado with mushroom, tomato, melted cheese and papaya seed dressing. The Eggplant Melt ($4.85) stuffs slices of baked eggplant, mushroom, tomato and cheese between the bread.

Andy's also offers some soy-based meat substitute sandwiches: Garden Burgers ($3.50) are made from multi-grains, and the Griller ($3.25) is made from soy products. Not quite a sandwich but healthful vegetarian snacks are the Baby Tostada ($3.85) and Papa Tostada ($4.50), each with a spiced soy vegetarian filling that's spooned onto corn tortilla chips, topped with cheese, lettuce, sour cream and a special sauce.

After a guilt-free sandwich, finish off with one of Andy's tasty oatmeal raisin cookies (85 cents), date energy bars ($1.25) or a flaky fruit turnover ($1.35). Breakfast attracts quite a turnout here, especially on Sundays.

Reach Matthew Gray at mgray@honoluluadvertiser.com.