by Terrance V. Mc Arthur
Before you get out of Reedley, heading east on Manning, you ought to stop at El Rincon de America Mexican and Salvadorean Food. It’s good stuff!
Soothing tones of blue greet you as you enter, accented by hangings, vintage pictures, dimensional paintings, and brightly-painted fish. There’s a home-town, community feel, with lots of groups of family and friends eating and talking. Tortilla chips of generous size, lightly chili-powdered, ably scoop up the child-friendly salsa in a pico de gallo style, chunks of tomato and onion floating by bits of cilantro. El Rincon serves a royally-creamy horchata, rich with cinnamon, that begs you to linger a while.When you talk about the food of El Salvador, you have to talk about pupusas. Like corn-based pita bread, they are delectable when filled with beans and rice. There’s a killer variation of coleslaw that is more pickled-tasting, and it practically jumps at your taste buds and wraps around them like the baby creature in Alien. An exciting experience!
The Chicken Mole (and that’s mo-LAY, not a yard-digging varmint with bad eyesight) has a deceptively mild sauce with a hidden kick. She-who-likes-the-taste-of-onions-but-won’t-eat-them was dipping strips of uncooked onion into the sauce and crunching them with enthusiasm.
Some dishes come with the option of hand-made corn tortillas—exercise this option. Thick, fluffy, and puffy, their tasty presence will spoil you; you’ll never be able to settle for the commercially- made cardboard Frisbees that pass for tortillas in the supermarket. Now, I understand why tortillas are a staple of Hispanic cookery.
The refried beans are smooth and inviting, not over-dry or gluey. Chicken Fajitas feature hearty strips of pepper, translucently-purplish onions, and good eating for all. The Enchilada Veracruz presents a muscular-looking package of shrimp blessed by the CHEESE fairy. It’s butter-smooth, interest-grabbing spicy, and may cause you to leave all others, cleaving only to this. It’s addictive. You may be forced to share by other members of your party, but it’s only being fair; you shouldn’t be a taste-miser.
El Rincon’s Meat Seasoning can be had for only $2.49 a bottle. Buy it, but put it away in a safe place or people will sneak samples of it…straight. It’s oh-so-tasty.
I was told to try a dish that could not be adequately described. When I tried to explain what it was supposed to be to the staff, they couldn’t figure out what it was, either. That’s all right. I’ll just go back to El Rincon de America Mexican & Salvadorean Food over and over again until I can solve the mystery… and then I’ll keep going.
Rincon is the Spanish term for “the corner” and, although the restaurant is not on the corner, you should corner some friends and go to 1514 E. Manning in Reedley for a grand dining experience. Give yourself plenty of time, since the place is often crowded. Your food may take a while to reach you, but it will be worth the wait. Things go to a different rhythm here, and you can use the time to chat, relive old times, or solve the problems of society. El Rincon is open seven days a week, 8am to 9pm. For information and take-out orders, call (559) 638-7889 or check out their Facebook page or the online menu.