Rincon Chileno’s Delicatessen is a Godsend For Chilean Food Fans
When I first read that there was a Chilean bakery serving sandwiches on Melrose in East Hollywood I got pretty excited. Ever since visiting Chile in 2008 I’ve been a big fan of their food. Mote con huesillos, chorrillana (steak and egg topped french fries), their sandwiches (churrasco FTW!) and their egg and olive filled empanadas de pino will forever be embedded in that part of my brain where good things are stored. After a bigtime lunch fail a couple of months ago (they’re one of those places that are closed on Mondays!) I finally made it over to Rincon Chileno to see if their sandwiches and empanadas would live up to my fond memories of Chile.
Rincon Chileno is actually a sit down full service restaurant with meat and seafood dishes that are all mostly outside the ML price range. For a real Midtown Lunch you’ve got to hit up the Delicastessen (slash bakery), a next door annex that sells sandwiches, empanadas, baked goods, and MOTE CON HUESILLOS!
What the hell is mote con huesillos? Good question. It’s this cold peach drink served with a scoop of cooked barley and a whole stewed peach. Half drink, half snack, it’s practically the national drink of Chile and kind of tough to find in the states. Needless to say I was pretty psyched- this refreshing beverage got me through many a hot days in Chile. Their version is a bit syrupy, and the barley was just ok, but the peach was good and it’s worth trying at least once. The only thing that sucks is they make the cups of mote in advance and they sit in the fridge until they are sold- so there is a chance of getting a half frozen, old tasting version. Sadly there is no schedule for making the mote, you just have to get lucky and hope to hit it on a day when they’ve just made a fresh batch.
What they do make fresh is the empanadas. They have 5 different kinds of regular sized empanadas (meat, chicken, spinach, spinach and cheese, and cheese) but the one to get is the “grande”, which is exactly like the empanadas de pino I had in Chile. Ground beef, that strong sauteed onion flavor, mixed with olives and big chunks of hard boiled egg in a wonderfully tasty crust. It’s not entirely fair to compare empanadas from different countries, but if you were forced me to do it I’d put these up against anybody for best empanada in L.A. consideration. It’s $3.75 by itself, or $4.95 as a lunch special with french fries and a soda. (The same lunch special is $3.95 if you get a regular sized empanada, but why on earth would you do that!)
For me an empanada is a side dish, not a lunch. So ordering a sandwich is a must. The churrasco is the industry standard (thinly pounded slices of steak, sliced tomato, and avocado) on fresh baked bread… but why order that when you can go for the chacarero- the same sandwich plus a handful of string beans!)
The sandwich doesn’t taste like much more than the sum of its parts (meat + tomato + avocado), and it certainly isn’t as flavorful as a Mexican torta or cemita, but that can be fixed by adding a little bit of their green hot sauce (which came with the empanada). It’s kind of like a cross between a salsa verde and a Peruvian aji. In other words, it’s not the greatest sandwich you’ve ever had in your life- but if you like Chilean sandwiches, these are better than average versions. And the cold, slightly pickled string beans are a fun addition. Don’t let me talk it down too much though… the bread is actually worth getting super excited about. Baked fresh daily on premises, they use two small oblong rolls that are still stuck together from baking (instead of a round roll like I had in Chile). Kind of like a parker house roll, with a slightly thicker crust, the bread was really fantastic and got me super pumped up to try their other baked goods.
They also serve the famous “Barros Luco” (same steak but with melted cheese), a grilled chicken sandwich and a milanesa, made with thinly pounded chicken or steak, breaded and fried. But if you want to be really daring, try the arrollado, a sandwich made with cold slices of pork roll- a cold cut made in house using the throw away pieces of pork. Strip away the super chewy layer of fat surrounding each slice, and it was pretty tasty. The sandwiches are all $4.95 ala carte, or $6.25 with french fries and a soda.
It would be pretty impossible to step into this place without a stop at the pastry counter. Their selection is huge for such a small place, and pretty much consists of some kind of dough or pastry layered with or fill with dulce de leche.
They have an astounding four kinds of alfajores (the official cookie of Chile), along with a bunch of other stuff that is all baked in house. If you like dulce de leche, you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven.
The guy behind the counter said his favorite was the torta mil hojas, which consisted of alternating layers of dulce de leche and puff pastry. Not mind blowing, but certainly not bad. And super fresh. With a hot cup of yerbe mate tea, it’s a pretty spectacular way to end to lunch.
I’m not sure if I would love Chilean food as much as I do if I had not visited the country. It’s certainly not as flavorful as Mexican food, and I could see a lot of Angelenos thinking of it as bland. But if you’ve ever had Chilean food, or this looks like something you would like, Rincon Chileno is a must visit. I don’t know what their restaurant is like, but their deli/bakery and all the great home-made food made me feel like I was back in Santiago.
- I love Chilean food! This is exciting…
- Everything is home made. Even the bread!
- Their selection of baked goods is so great… especially for such a small shop
- Did you say 4 kinds of alfajores!?
- Sandwich, fries, and a soda for just $6.25? That’s an amazing deal
- Did I mention the bread is great?
- Where else are you going to get mote con huesillos in L.A.?
- The baked empanadas taste exactly like the ones in Chile
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Chilean sandwiches are so bland compared to Mexican sandwiches
- Veggies on my steak sandwich? No thanks!
- The place is too small. There are only 6 seats!
- Sometimes the service is slow and terrible.
- The french fries in Chile were *amazing*. These were just standard shoestrings. Not bad, but not “amazing”
- The mote con huesillos can be pretty bad if it’s been sitting in there for awhile.
Rincon Chileno Delicatessen, 4354 W. Melrose, Hollywood 323-666-6075