PARSIPPANY — After a day or two of digging out from two feet of snow, courtesy of mother nature, it was time for another Parsippany culinary adventure. Decided to try out a little Latino restaurant on Parsippany Road, El Rincón Colombiano – Latino, brought to my attention by another local foodie on social media. I planned on meeting a few friends for dinner, but first, since El Rincón is a BYOB, I decided to pick up some Modelo, a popular South American Cerveza, to compliment that region’s delicious cuisine.
El Rincón (translates to the corner) describes itself as a casual eatery serving tacos, arepas, rotisserie chicken, and other Latin staples in small, homey digs, serving homemade, authentic Colombian and Mexican food. Sounded good to me! This is that place that you pass by a hundred times and never notice that it is there; I know I have. With a few off-road parking spaces in front, (additional parking in the rear), and a very nondescript façade, the restaurant, unfortunately, seems to get lost among the rows of other small stores and eateries that line Parsippany Road. To be honest, the exterior does not exactly entice you in but do not let that stop you, it just might be the right time to put this one on your local food destination list.
Family owned and operated by Arnulfo Gomez and opened in 2002, this is a well-established eatery in our township. According to our hostess, all the dishes at El Rincón are traditional and prepared just as you would have them south of the border. One of our group members has spent considerable time in Colombia and confirmed that. Unfortunately, Mr. Gomez, the owner, was not available during my visit, but our genuinely nice hostess, Araceli, was open and accommodating, answering all my probably annoying inquiries despite somewhat of a language barrier. Mostly Spanish spoken here. But not to worry, all the menu items are English-friendly, and the food speaks for itself. I would be remiss if I did not mention that El Rincón Colombiano does offer a wide and impressive selection of both Colombian and Mexican fare on their menu.
Upon entering El Rincón, you notice that their self-described ambiance was right on the money. Nothing flashy, small, casual, clean, light, and spacious, with a welcoming and comfortable vibe. The simple and no-frills décor, upfront counter with a colorful menu displays overhead, Colombian, and Mexican artifacts adorning the walls, and simple table settings, are basically what one would expect in this type of authentic, traditional, ethnic establishment, tables are aligned along the walls for those who choose to dine in, and all required pandemic rules are adhered to. Our group was warmly greeted upon our arrival by our, smiling, amiable, and attentive hostess, Araceli, who immediately made us feel at home.
Latino food is as complicated as it is interesting, it derives its complex flavors and cooking styles from various cultural influences, including Native American, African, European, and Asian. As it is in many other countries, the various dishes vary greatly from region to region. Fortunately, that leaves us with a wide range of delicious food selections to choose from, with new, exciting ingredients, and flavors with a South and Central American influence to entice your palate, which seems to be the focus of El Rincón. If luxurious, elegant, or romantic dining is what you are looking for, you might want to look elsewhere. This is not some Tex-Mex/South American chain-style restaurant either, this is real, traditional, home-made food. If it is tasty, healthy, hearty, and reasonably priced authentic Latino food you are after, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this might just be the place for you.
For Aperitivo’s we went with Chicken Empanadas for the group to share, which were delicious, fried to a nice crunchy, crispy, golden-brown crust, and filled with moist, juicy, shredded chicken, with a side of what I believe was a mildly spicy home-made Chimichurri sauce. Also, had the Chorizo con Arpita, a tasty, spicy, flavor-packed Spanish sausage with a nice smoky flavor, accompanied with a cornbread paddy (arepa); and Chicharrón; nicely seasoned, decadently delicious, crunchy, fried pork rinds, which offered a nice salty and succulent complement to the other dishes.
For my entrée, I was anxious to try El Rincón’s signature dish, and probably the most popular and typical dish in Colombia, Bandeja Paisa (grilled steak, sausage, fried egg, fried pork, grinds, sweet plantain, avocado, rice & beans, with a salad). This nicely sized, perfectly prepared, proportioned, and the plated meal was delicious, packed with all sorts of great levels of flavor and texture. Everything from the properly seasoned and prepared, tender, savory marinated steak, the perfectly fried egg, the crunchy, salty Chicharrón, the sweetness of the plantain, creaminess of the avocado, to the rice and beans, it all came together perfectly to create a delicious, satisfying, and enjoyable dinner. By now, after the assortment of appetizers and this nice-sized entrée, I was done for the evening. Of course, I finished it all and enjoyed every bite.
Others in my group ordered both the Bistec Encebollado (grilled steak with onions, rice, beans, sweet plantains, and salad), and Carne de Res A La Plancha (grilled steak, French fries, rice, plantain, and a salad). Everyone was equally pleased and impressed with their meals, overall comment was that the steaks were deliciously marinated, juicy, and tender. The Bistec Encebollado was covered with nice, caramelized onions and served with a portion of very fluffy white rice, served alongside a red bean gravy, which reportedly perfectly complemented the rest of the dish. Our group left satiated and happy at the end of the evening, promising to return soon.
I am glad to say that El Rincón Colombiano–Latino Restaurant seems to have hit the mark with its delicious, authentic food, generous portion sizes, its welcoming and hospitable service, pleasant and clean environment, and very reasonable prices. When you are up for a casual, satisfying, and filling breakfast, lunch, or dinner I would suggest stopping in and giving it a try. Buen Provecho!
Dine-In, Take Out, Delivery, BYOB, Parking Available (front and back), Catering.
Mondays to Saturday – 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Closed Sundays.
El Rincón Colombiano – Latino is located at 295 Parsippany Road, Parsippany.