Restaurants & Bars

El Rinconcito Salvadoreno

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El Rinconcito Salvadoreno

TastyLlama | Apr 17, 2003 04:26 AM

You wouldn’t think a truly good restaurant would be here. From the outside, it looks like an unassuming, decrepit mess. Go here anyway. It is special. It’s only been open a couple months, I think, but the chef/owner ran a place in Queens for a couple decades, so he knows what he’s doing. And he makes great cheese.
We ordered rather a lot, but weren’t disappointed with anything. They have a lot of the Mexican/Salvadoran standbys, like enchiladas, tamales, and flan, but don’t assume you’ll necessarily be familiar with something just because you recognize the name. They make their own tortillas, of course; about six inches in diameter, and maybe half an inch thick, packed with flavor. They taste VERY homemade; earthy, fresh, grainy. Not too filling though, which is good, there’s so much else to try.
I ordered their avocado, which came with tons of rice, beans, and a hard but crumbly cheese. White rice, but not plain; it had corn and carrots incorporated, as well as, maybe, something citrus. Hard to tell, but it went great with the aguacate and refried beans. The cheese tasted like a cross between Greek feta and nothing I’d had before; strong stuff. Put it all on a tortilla, and go to town. We also had chicken enchiladas, which weren’t a hit with everyone since they were spicier than expected. I didn’t find anything wrong with them myself, but nothing really special about them either, except that they incorporated the same great tortillas as everything else.
The tamale WAS better than those I’ve had elsewhere. It was lighter, and packed with plenty of chicken and potato. The enhanced fluffiness factor was a definite selling point, as more often than not, tamales are served as just extremely dense lumps, even if they taste good. This one was special. We had a couple of papusas as well, as we are currently on a quest to find the greatest papusas on Long Island. These rated as high as any we’ve had; the same great tortillas, stuffed with cheese, beans, and ‘loroco,’ which I’m informed is some kind of flower. Whatever it is, they were as good the ones you can get at Taco Grill in Freeport.
I’ve never heard of ‘casamiento’ before. What it looked like was a mixture of rice, beans, and a few vegetables. What it tasted like was rice, beans, a few vegetables, and corned beef hash. REALLY good. It was like someone took refried beans, mixed it up in really good rice, and fried it in bacon fat. Or something like that. Anyone seen that on a menu elsewhere?
‘Cuajada’ was the name of the fresh cheese we had. They make it right there in the restaurant, and it shows. It tastes like goat cheese, but creamier, and milder. The perfect stuff to spread on a warm tortilla. I’d go back just for that.
There were a couple other things we had, but one deserves special mention. On the menu they list ‘Quesadilla.’ As a desert. We were confused too, so we grilled the guy on what that actually meant. What he told us was that it was a pastry made from rice, cheese, and sour cream. I still sort of expected something like a sweet cheese blintz when we ordered it, but what he brought was indeed the corner of a cake, about an inch thick, light brown, sprinkled with sesame seeds. I’ve never tasted ANYthing like that, EVER. It’s chewy, and sweet, and had an almost undetectable but undeniably pleasant aftertaste from the cheese. Why it’s called a Quesadilla I haven’t the slightest idea, but make sure you get it. Good with coffee.
On the inside, the place really looks very nice. Nice paintings, flowers all over, and authentic music (which was competing with the TV, but hey) set a great ambiance. There are six booths and four tables, so I can’t imagine getting seating is a big problem. Oh, that’s the other thing; we got all our food unusually fast, within maybe five minutes of ordering. Granted we were about the only people there, but still a welcome accomplishment. Anyway, go here. It’s at 976 Front St, Uniondale, NY 11553. Call them at 516-564-1003 to make sure that there’ll be fresh Quesadilla waiting for you.

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