On a little corner of Arapahoe in Boulder, in the Village area, is a small store whose logo is bordered with colorful, vibrant designs. The words on the logo read “Rincon Argentino”. Step in through the front doors and you will be met with the sight of a very cozy looking interior full of warm browns and flashes of color, as well as a menu hanging overhead that will make your mouth water, whether or not you’ve ever tried Argentinean cuisine.
Welcome to Rincon Argentino, “locally owned with an accent,” according to its website. The restaurant offers a variety of foods; most that started as a home recipe, some that have been transformed to cater to Boulder customers. Rincon Argentino serves special sandwiches, salads, drinks and desserts. What the restaurant is most known for, however, is its empanadas, crispy bread stuffed full of fresh meats and vegetables and served with one spicy sauce of your choosing.
The spicy sauces are an addition to the food that feels more Boulder, says Christian Saber, the founder and owner of the restaurant, but it does still stick to its traditional roots. Saber came to Boulder in 2006, where he met his Colorado-native wife and in 2012, decided to open a restaurant with her.
Opening the restaurant allowed Saber to focus full-time on his passion, cooking. He had been cooking for many years before then, and had grown up on the taste of home-cooked empanadas and recipes. Many of the recipes in his restaurant are inspired by these dishes, though he does take creative liberties with them.
“I’m a chef, so I play a little bit with the flavors, but of course I try to find the best quality and ingredients, which we put together in our empanadas,” Saber says.
The No. 6 empanada on the menu, for instance, is the spicy chicken or pollo picante. The spicy chicken is a rather new exploration, since spicy food is not at all common in Argentina. The empanada, made from spicy chicken, onions, red bell pepper and other spices, ignites a mellow spiciness in the mouth. The empanadas always come warm and soft, but with edges of crispiness that make the texture more enjoyable.
The empanadas that the restaurant is known for can be eaten right there in the small and cozy dining space, or they can be taken to go. The fastness of the food operation is ideal for the restaurant.
The restaurant’s layout highlights the fast and easy. The front desk is the first thing you see when you enter, and the tables laid out on either side of the restaurant are bare. Once you order at the front you get a number that is just as colorful as the restaurant’s logo, and then sit and wait for your food. Most of the food is finger-food, except for the salads. The restaurant doesn’t highlight the dine-in experience but rather, a quick and delicious one.
“If the taste is there and the quality is there, all you need is one fork and one knife. Or maybe just your hands,” he says. “…I want people to come in dressed however they like and feel comfortable.”
That being said, the restaurant still supplies entertainment with its traditional Argentinean music, drinks bar, and TV, which is usually showing soccer tournaments. The place has a constant flow of people and is always full of smiles and cheery conversation.
Food is constantly coming in and out of the small kitchen and is served with a smile. It isn’t just empanadas being served on the tabletops either. The sandwiches at Rincon Argentino are very filling, so much so that they might also end up in a to go box, whether or not you came to dine in or out.
The Milanesa Sandwich, a common dish in Latin America that uses various types of breaded meat fillet, is filling enough on its own. No. 19, the Milanesa de Pollo is a lightly breaded chicken breast sandwich that is served with lettuce, tomato and your option of spicy sauce on the side. The ingredients in the sandwich are freshly balanced, but the breaded chicken is the true delight.
Saber doesn’t have particular recommendations, since he believes that there is something on the menu for everyone’s tastes, including the ones that have never tried Argentinean food before.
“I’m proud of each of my recipes, because people enjoy them,” Saber says.
The restaurant has something for everyone, and provides an exploration of taste that can be traditional yet modern. Rincon Argentino offers a wide variety of meats, vegetables and even gluten-free pies, making it a place that is accessible to any kind of diner.