Five tables, with plastic red-and-white checkered tablecloths, make up El Rinconcito Cubano in Logan Square. An old poster touting the benefits of travel to Cuba hangs on the wall, surrounded by various scenic shots of the island nation. As I entered, two families enjoyed their meals near the front windows. A pair of men sat at the table in the far corner, quietly contemplating dinner, each with a nod for a recognizable face approaching the counter to pick up a carryout order. Everyone, regular or not, is greeted warmly. This is the place for a Cuban meal.
What the restaurant may lack in size it makes up for in the size of the portions. The menu offers a selection of authentic entrees, from ropa vieja ($9.95), shredded beef in tomato sauce, to camarones enchilados ($10.25), shrimp in creole sauce with fried plantains, all served with heaping sides of rice, beans and bread. The bread is necessary to get every last drop of the excellent creole sauce. If you're here for lunch and want something smaller, several sandwiches are available, including jamon y queso ($4.25), ham and cheese, and pan con ropa vieja ($5.75), a smaller taste of the shredded beef favorite. To drink, try one of the Cuban sodas including Materva, Ironbeer (a soft drink, not a beer) and Jupina ($1.50 each). You may not be able to visit Havana, as the poster suggests, but you'll enjoy a small taste of it here.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: A.J. Weiss