I tried El Llano (3941 N. Lincoln) for the first time last night. It has probably been vetted on these pages many times, but here is my take on it.
I ordered the lamb, and it was very nicely seasoned and tasty. I also tried the steak (NY Strip?), but found the cut gristly and fatty -- the lamb was way better. The chimicurri was less garlicky than I like, seeming a little bland. But the salsa (green too, so I mistook it for chimichurri at first) was fresh and very hot.
The tiny beef empanadas were filled of potato and shredded beef. They were a nice departure from the big, ground-beef empanadas more commonly served. But the cheese arepa was sort of rubbery and didn't taste griddle-fresh.
Sides with the meat were salty boiled potatoes, cassava fries, white rice, and a little iceberg lettuce salad.
Of course I ordered the coconut flan for dessert, and this was the biggest disappointment of all -- the egg was "scrambled" and tough. I tasted the figs with dulce de leche too, and they were fine (canned, both figs and caramel).
However, the meal was a bargain. This huge meal for two, incuding two appetizers, two desserts, an extra salad, and a generous tip, was $40. An elderly musician played the guitar and sang, which made the space feel intimate and pleasant.
El Llano's comparables for a big meat-based South American dinner do a better job, I think. Las Tablas a little further down Lincoln consistently has the sweetest and most delicate flan and always has great steaks. The Argentenian counterparts like Tango Miel, Tango Sur, and El Nandu have not disappointed me either.
All in all, I would go to El Llano again for the good value if I were already in the neighborhood, but I would probably not make a special effort to revisit it.
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