Culver City and Inglewood Report: Porky's and El Rincon Criollo (sort of long)
As I mentioned in this thread where I tried unsuccesfully to find Porky's the first time, I may be in LA for a while:
World's greatest granddaughter hasn't shown up yet, but the doc and I think it won't be long, and anyway, I hate airplanes, the weather down here is GORGEOUS, I have more work meetings scheduled here and in Anaheim next week, so I decided what the heck, I am here for the duration....my flexible schedule means lots of time to try new spots, at least till chowgranddaughter shows up!
And Porky's was on the list for a solo meal (since daughter and SIL don't eat pork it didn't seem like the sort of spot they'd like :-)).
Set out with Nosh's directions from the thread and found it easily on my second try. While I had already rejected the delivery option, I had decided I wanted take out to take back to my hotel, and lo and behold, they have a drive up! Cool! I placed my order, they gave me a number tent for the top of the car, told me to pull over to the lot, and brought the order quickly (according to my watch it was only a few minutes, but it seemed liked fooorreeever sitting there in my car being tormented by all the great bbq smells.)
Anyway, in addition to a pork rib dinner, I got a chicken leg, since other posts have praised their Golden Bird fried chicken. See e.g.:
I had no intention of waiting till I got home to try the leg. First bite was heaven, with a great spice blend on the coating, and the chicken was very flavorful. I did think it was somewhat greasy. I am sure there is better fried chicken in this great city, but not bad at all, and I would definitely go back for more.
Not as sure about the ribs: got it with two sides, mac and cheese (a creamier, heavier version than I prefer, but not bad) and cabbage and bacon (heavenly, but then: cabbage, bacon, and pepper: how could it NOT be heavenly....), texas toast, (which I ignored, as I always do with texas toast) and 'bubba' sauce, which is the medium level of heat of the three sauces they offer. They gave me a generous portion of sauce on the side, and it was great: complex, delicious, good amount of heat though I'd consider trying the hottest next time. Loved the sauce.
It was the ribs I wasn't as enthusiastic about: they were undercooked! I am not ordinarily one to be really squeamish about pink (this was closer to red!) pork, but with bbq, and particularly ribs, it doesn't work for me. They were also somewhat gristly.
Ok Porky's fans: did I hit a poorly cooked slab of ribs, or should I order something else if I go back?
Total for my meal was about $18 with tax. Completely reasonable, lots of food.
Next day I needed a quick lunch between LAX and the area where my daughter lives (just south of Westwood): so cruised Sepulveda, found a parking place in front of El Rincon Criollo. It was a sign...
The place is small, cheerful and with a few pleasant tables outside. I have been craving arroz con pollo forEVER, so my ordering decision was easy despite a lengthy menu. I also got a Jupina, a very tasty pineapple soda advertised on the menu as being 'Cuban': of course it is really Cuban-style, made in Miami. Quite tasty though. They have other interesting sodas, including coco and yerba matte: I bought a few to go to take with me on a planned excursion with daughter to the beach later in the day. They also have beer, wine and cocktails.
Service was quick and friendly. My arroz came promptly, a large portion with a thigh and a leg, along with yellow rice, tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, and peas. It also came with a side of plantains, which I actually tasted despite a great aversion to bananas. Yep, too much like banana for me; they were very sweet. I am fairly sure the peas were canned, but the rest of the ingredients were good quality. The rice was quite yellow though I couldn't taste any saffron (could have been a bit of tumeric) and was perfectly cooked, with each grain still separate. The chicken pieces, thigh and leg, were a bit overcooked, but very flavorful.
Total for my lunch, which was plenty of food, was about $12 with tax.
I enjoyed it, but suspect there are better items on the menu. Other menu items that looked interesting (particularly since Cuban food is almost non-existent in the bay area!) included a Cuban seafood stew, lots of other seafood dishes including grilled halibut with garlic, roast pork with garlic sauce and grilled onions, ropa vieja, pork chops, a Cubano sandwich, rice pudding, flan, flan with coco, guava paste, fried yuca....
Bottom line: this is like home cooking with a twist, and I'd definitely go back.
But there are lots of other places to explore down here first....
801 E Manchester Blvd, Inglewood, CA 90301
El Rincon Criollo
4361 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230
Presumably Susan knows undercooked pork, but just throwin' it out there - it wasn't smoked? Pork gets that red band when it's smoked good & long.
Of course, if it didn't taste good and wasn't tender, then raw or cooked, it's still bad.
No, I've never been to Porky's so I'm talking from complete ignorance.
not a red band, and yes I know what one is and looks like. very pink , as I said, almost red throughout. and when I said almost red I really meant almost raw and was referring more to the overall texture than the color. in other words, definitely undercooked, significantly so.
If I had gotten it to eat in I would have probably taken it back, particularly given that service seems very good at Porky's. I'd be inclined to believe someone made a mistake and hope to get back for another try, though I might try the pulled pork next time.
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