Monday, July 15, 2013

Rinconcito Guatemalteco - Los Angeles

Saturday we went with some friends to see a play at the Pantages Theater and had lunch before-hand at Rinconcito Guatemalteco, located at 501 N. Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004 (323) 463-6602. It gets 4.5 stars on Yelp (with 30 reviews) which is why we decided to try it.  As I understand it, the names means the Corner Guatemalan, which is appropriate as it is a restaurant on a corner that focuses on Guatemalan cuisine. It is housed in a relatively small room with tables covered by brilliantly colored woven cloth protected by glass. 

Lots of Guatemalan cuisine is based on an earlier Mayan cuisine, which features corn, chilis and beans. There are many types of tamales, which vary by ingredients in the masa, such as corn, potatoes and rice; fillings, such as meat, fruits and nuts; and what the tamale is wrapped in, such as leaves and husks. The masa is typically made out of maize, that is not sweet like our U.S. corn, and they are usually wrapped in banana, plaintain or maxan leaves, rather than corn husks. 

To start with, I got a tamarind drink and Judy got a hibiscus drink. The tamarind was slightly sweet and had some body to it. It was good. The hibiscus was also slightly sweet and a little more watery. It was a little too watery for me. 

We shared a couple of appetizers. One was an enchilada (Estilo Guatemala) with a hard shell tortilla topped with pork, cabbage, carrot, beet, boiled egg, white dry cheese and tomato salsa. The beets and their red color dominated the dish. It was what I would call a tostada, but with very different ingredients I've ever had in a tostada. I loved the look and the color more than the taste, but it tasted very healthy. It is worth getting because it is so unusual.  
Estilo Guatemala - enchilada with a hard shell tortilla.
Estilo Guatemala
The other appetizer was platanos fritos con frijoles y crema, consisting of ripe fried plantains with pureed black bean and Guatemalan cream. The plaintains were very moist, as good as any I've ever had, and dipped in the creamy black beans and cream was heavenly. It had a very nice mouth feel and some sweetness, but not overly so. 
Fried plantains, pureed black beans and Guatemalan cream.
Then we shared the Especial Chapin, the Guatemalan sampler with a chile relleno, asada, adobada, longaniza, ensalade de pasta, rice beans and tortillas. 
Guatemalan Sampler
What they called a chile relleno was not an Anaheim chili stuffed with white cheese, like I'm familiar with. It was a stuffed bell pepper, coated in egg and fried, stuffed with minced pork, carrots, green beans, potato and seasoning. As I was eating it, I didn't really realize it was a stuffed bell pepper. The outside seemed rather thin and the inside seemed kind of light and fluffy with an unusual and pleasing taste. It was an unusual, but good combination, something I would order again. 
Chile relleno - opened up. Very unusual. 
The carne asada was grilled Guatemalan style. It had a nice flavor but was cooked a little more than I typically prefer. The adobada is a pork loin smothered in adobo sauce which contains achiote (annatto), cumin, garlic, oregano, thyme, vinegar and black pepper. The pork was a little overdone for my taste, but the adobo sauce was very good, a nice spicy flavor. I liked it better than the carne asada. Longaniza is a Guatemalan pork sausage that was grilled and served with chirmol, a Guatemalan salsa made with grilled tomatoes, minced onions, cilantro, lime juice and salt. The chirmol is very mild and okay. The sausage had a nice flavor but was a little overdone. 
Adobada in foreground, carne asada behind it and longaniza at the far back next to the pureed black beans. 
The pasta salad was cold with mayonnaise, carrots and other vegetable bits and pieces. I really liked it. It was a nice contrast to some of the other warm dishes. 
Pasta salad and chile relleno
One of our friends got a tamale that looked really good and he said it was excellent. 

I would like to go here again and just order appetizers - items I've not had before. Well worth a visit. 


  1. The atmosphere was authentic without trying to be: light salmon colored walls, an occasional Latin song blaring from the jukebox, woven fabric tablecloths, a Latin clientele, and simple decorating. Our waitress (there was only one for the restaurant) was super friendly. It all added to a positive experience.

  2. Interesting, when we were in Guatemala we saw a lot of chicken, tamales, and pizza.