Wednesdays @ El Rincon del Sabor (An Ecuadorian Gem!)
Every day I have to think about what defines a Midtown Lunch. There are definitely rules that I have set up for myself, but not all places fit exactly into the guidelines. I don’t usually eat at fast food chains, but my love of New Orleans gives me a soft spot for Popeyes. I almost never write about delis, but if there is one that is willing to stuff a burrito with fried plantains, then I’m there. All my lunches are under $10, but for good ramen, or an all you can eat buffet I’ve been known to go up to $12.
But that is just one end of the spectrum. The other end is the place that fits every rule. Weighing the positives and negatives isn’t necessary, because it is the perfect Midtown Lunch spot. El Rincon del Sabor is one of those places. Cheap. Check. Something different (it’s Ecuadorian food). Check. Authentic. Check. Homemade. Check. Not a chain (owned by real people). Check. Hidden (it’s on the fourth floor of a Diamond District building with a paper sign that you wouldn’t notice unless you were looking for it). Check. And best of all, it’s got history.
El Rincon del Sabor has spent the past 12 years dishing out delicious Ecuadorian food on 46th St. btw. 5th & 6th. A few months ago, they moved to a new location (47th St. btw. 5th & 6th), but the food is still the same. There is a rotating menu of dishes every single day, and even though there is a printed menu a breakdown of the week, it doesn’t always match exactly. The best way to find out what’s being served is to give them a call. I went last Wednesday with 3 co-workers and we sampled four of the 10 or so dishes they had available.
Pics, the phone number and a +/- after the jump…
Tallarin con Pollo (Spaghetti w/ Chicken). Or as I like to call it, “The Carb Special”. Spaghetti, rice & lentils. Awesome! The chicken was stewed, and really nice. $7, and I was told it was their most popular item on Wednesdays.
Carne Asada de Res (Grilled Steak). $8. If you like latin style skirt steak, it’s a great deal for 8 bucks.
Grilled Chicken. This item isn’t on the printed menu on any day, so I’m assuming they have it often. Perfect if you’re looking for something plain and easy, it’s just a lightly spiced piece of grilled chicken (also served with rice, lentils and salad). $7
The motherload! Carne Apanada (breaded steak). The Ecuadorian version of Chicken Fried Steak. Pretty delicious. It’s listed as a Tuesday special, but they had it on Wednesday (left over from the day before? Maybe. But who cares, it was delicious!).
Also listed on the menu for Wednesday was a really awesome looking Spinach soup, Fried Fish, a shrimp ceviche (which looked really nice), and Stewed Oxtails (always a crowd pleaser! Each special is between $7 & $8 (soups are $5) and comes with rice, lentils salad, and a house made drink of the day. On Wednesday it was “Quaker”, a typical drink from the coast of Ecuador made from Quaker Oatmeal (and some kind of fruit). It tasted light and fruity, with a hint of cinnamon. Could have been colder, but it was really nice (and the price was right!). I was told some days they also have Horchata (one of my favorite Latin American drinks made from rice).
Since the specials change every day, it’s impossible to know exactly what they are going to have, but there are some dishes on other days that look pretty damn good. Like Stewed Lamb & Oxtail Soup on Mondays, Chaulafan (a rice & meat dish) or Stewed Potatoes w/ Pork Skin on Tuesdays, and Crackling Chicken on Thursdays. Fridays seem to be the big day with over 15 things on the menu, including Catfish soup, all sorts of seafood dishes, tripe dishes, soups and stews. Needless to say, I will be back!
THE + (what somebody who likes this place will say)
- Authentic & cheap Ecuadorian food
- It’s homemade. You feel like you are eating food made by somebody’s Mom or Grandma
- I like stews, soups and grilled meat.
- I love offal! (They have oxtails, stewed tongue, various tripe dishes, and cow feet soup)
- They have a great Aji (Ecuadorian Hot Sauce) to smother everything with
- This ain’t Cuban food, so if you are looking for rice, beans and plantains, (or a replacement for Margon) you are going to be disappointed. It’s Ecuadorian food.
- I’m a vegetarian. (Not much for you at a place like this…)
- Some dishes are bland
- I don’t like lentils!
- I couldn’t find the damn place (make sure you bring the address!)
El Rincon del Sabor, 74 w. 47th St. (btw. 5+6th), 212-840-0101