Chicago >Food & Dining > El Rinconcito Cuban
3238 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL | Directions 6064741.924754 -87.709324
Mon. - Sun. 11am - 8pm
Neighborhoods: Logan Square, North Side
best homestyle cuban in chicago, coming from a cuban! – my mother, who is 100% cuban born and raised, and step father 50% cuban 50% puerto rican, came to chicago to visit me (i'm 1/2 cuban born and raised in miami, florida) and i brought them to this restaurant in logan square. none of us had been here before, but i decided to take a chance after reading several great reviews about it on a few different review sites (this one included).
a little background: i had previously been to 2 total "cuban" restaurants in the city (cafe 28 and cafe laguardia) and was plain and simple unimpressed with both. although the food was good by any joe schmo's standards, i did NOT consider much on either menu to be traditionally cuban, and the few things i did consider to be cuban by name didnt taste cuban at all! call me spoiled, but i know what real cuban cuisine is, and i sure didnt find it at either of these places (you just can't mix cuban with mexican as neither has anything to do with the other, and you really just cant beat the low-key mom-and-pop places!)
anyway, we went to el rinconcito and upon just entering the place we KNEW this was the good stuff we/i had been searching for--the air smelled the way true cuban food smells when you cook it properly (it smelled like my grandma's kitchen), and the ambiance was just right, just like a family-owned/run restaurant in cuba or miami would feel like, complete with the older generation family-friend-regulars talking about past times in cuba and talking about castro and politics. it really made me miss home!
i ordered my favorite dishes...palomilla steak (thin, juicy pan-fried steak topped with caramelized onions) with a side of arroz con frijoles negros (white rice, black beans) and maduros (sweet fried plantains). my absolute favorites. they NAILED it, like i knew they would. it tasted just like abuela's home-cooked palomilla and tasted just like the best-known joints in miami. my mom and step-dad agreed, as they ordered chuletas (pork chops) with yuca and picadillo (traditionally seasoned ground beef). for dessert we had flan...nailed it!
i recommend this to any cuban or puerto rican trying to find a taste of home, and to anyone trying to discover what true cuban cuisine is REALLY like.
portions are HUGE so get ready to bring home leftovers, food is cheap (everything under $11) and cash-only. service was great, super friendly staff. don't be afraid to make yourself at home and chum it up with the locals hanging out there...the people who hang out here are very warm and friendly!
most of the employees speak perfect english, all speak perfect spanish. not difficult to communicate at all if you don't know the language. owned by the grandpa (who wasnt there), the grandma is the master cook who trained/oversees the 2 regular cooks (she also took our order and helped serve us), and the daughters/aunts/nieces help run it.
next time i need my fix im going back and bringing cuban-cuisine-virgins with me!
Very good food, descent prices, sometimes good service, but still worth it ! – I love the food from this place. The service can sometimes be kind of rough if the older lady is there ( the mother). If her daughter is working good service.
Heads up on spices ( not spicy but full of flavor.) if you get heart burn easily you might want to take something for it before it or after. But it is worth it. Try the corquetas I love those things!
Nondescript Fullerton Avenue storefront belies the delicious Cuban food made within. – In Short
Cuban posters encased in acrylic frames are one nod to the tropical nation, but the real stamps of authenticity are the old Cuban men engaged in heated conversation at the front window. Diners wait at red and white checker-clothed tables, while counter employees prep rows of sandwiches. Traditional dishes, like the Cuban sandwich, ropa vieja--shredded beef in tomato sauce--and fried pork chops are standouts, along with standard sides like yucca, plantains and croquetas.
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