Ignore the C, and Embrace Rinconcito Mexicano
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the DoH grading system, I will fear no C grade – for I am the baddest mother***er in Midtown’s lunch desert.”
Just keep thinking that. Yes, there’s a very big and very present C grade on the DoH’s website for Rinconcito Mexicano, formerly Las Poblanitas, but after readin a review from Food In Mouth I felt like it merited a visit. If you have the gumption to frame the C grade, and the confirmed roaches, in the framework of a hidden gem from a pre-Giulianified Manhattan, you’re gonna find something better than good – you’re gonna find authentic.
My first order was a torta, and it was done in a freakin’ flash. These guys are fast and furious but actually quite nice. I had mine with chorizo, because I’m a gigantic junkie for chorizo, but you can get them in chicken, beef, roast pork, or spicy pork as well.
It’s quite decently sized – maybe around 8” long and 3” across or thereabouts. It’s securely wrapped to the point where you very well could eat and walk simultaneously. It’d be a great go-to if you have a bus to catch or are just coming from one. Call it in and grab it, then make your way elsewhere and eat as you go.
Take a look at this freakin’ torta (sorry, I know the photo isn’t great.) I admit I haven’t had many tortas in the past, and I’m totally open to changing that, but this was one of the better damn sandwiches I’ve had, period. The bread tasted like decent quality Cuban bread and was well pressed. Guacamole, cheese, what looks like cactus, lettuce, tomatoes, pork, and a smidgen of mayo come together really well. Each bite was well-layered so you don’t suffer some kind of burrito syndrome, where you find poorly-spread or poorly-mixed chunks of individual components. The chorizo was quite nicely smokey and just a little spicy, enough to give a little tingle. Eight bucks before tax/tips/drinks. Close to the top end but pretty damn tasty.
Second round – tacos. A co-worker ordered the spicy pork and in my opinion, it was quite nice, but the pork was a little dry. There’s enough crust on the pork to make me think they’re just carnitas tossed with some extra spices, but the dryness wasn’t too pronounced. They had a nice crunchiness on the crispy bits, and while they weren’t drippingly moist with juices, they had a really nice rounded flavor to them. My next target is the regular pork, to see if it’s soupy and pulled like Chipotle or Qdoba does theirs – which, IMHO, is just a load of stringy liquid pork crap no matter how well it’s done.
The tacos are done as they should be from any bodega taco counter or a seriously real Mexican food cart like El Rey del Sabor – double-layered small tortillas, chopped onion and cilantro, and some lime to squeeze on. Rinconcito tosses in guacamole and salsa, both of which are decent. Nothing earth-shattering but definitely homemade; the chunks of tomato aren’t fully singularly even. These weren’t run through a mandolin or Vidalia chopper, nothing of the sort. The guac was a little too liquidy for my taste, but it was well-balanced otherwise. Putting ‘em all together was a darn good taco, again with a choice of chicken, beef, chorizo, roast pork, or spicy pork.
It’s too bad for Rinconcito that its location is questionably close to Port Authority, and that its prices are so high. Their menu has mole poblano, pipian, cecina – all things you expect from a proper authentic Mexcian joint, but none of the real exotic bits and pieces are within ML price ranges. However, if their burritos retain some of the quality that they did from the 2009 ML review, it might well be worth real revisitation. I can’t think of another authentic Mexican restaurant with ML prices within striking distance of us poor folks in the west 30s , aside from the occasional Domo Taco visit – yes, that’s as close as we get. Are you listening, El Rey del Sabor?
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Authentic and decent quality
- Quick preparation and delivery
- Real non-chain non-Tex non-Cali Mexican!
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- It’s really, really hard to overlook the straightforward “there are roaches here” DoH report and accompanying C grade
- The really good stuff is way out of the $10 max ML price range
- It’s either in tourist hell or PABT hell, depending on your location point of view
Rinconcito Mexicano, 307 W 39th St (btw. 8+9th). 212-268-1704