At El Rincon Criollo (translate: The Creole Corner), you’ll find Cuban food with a whole lot of camp.
On the Sepulveda strip of Culver City, this dinky cafe opens up into a myriad of tropical flare and ’60s kitsch. Multi-colored maps of Cuba on the tables, flags and banners hanging from the ceilings, and more palm tree references than the entire song of “Mele Kalikimaka.” This place is a scene.
Hailing traditional, homemade Cuban food with fresh ingredients, the menu is straightfoward and simple. Slow-roasted pork, steak strips in spiced sauce, and shrimp and squid galore–all proteins come with the obligatory side of fluffy, lightly seasoned rice, black beans (with a delightful hint of ginger),and no-frills fried plantains. If it sounds both delicious and basic,you’re not far off.
But there don’t need to be fancy surprises in the menu. The food speaks for itself–you won’t feel shortchanged at the lack of gimmicks here. Lechon asado, traditional shredded roast pork, is succulent, cooked in a mild marinade and served with sweet grilled onions. Pollo asado, garlic-lemony chicken with crisp fried skin, doesn’t feel too indulgent or greasy. The lomo saltado, almost like a Cuban version of beef stew, comes with stewed steak chunks and French fries in a tangy wine-like sauce.
To wash down your entrees, choose from an eclectic array of Cuban fruit juices, shakes, and sodas (plus house-made sangrias). The canned sodas are too sweet for their own good–but isn’t that the fun of it? Try the yerba mate variety for a grassy, herbal twist on cola.
El Rincon Criollo
4361 Sepulveda Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90230