>> Rinc贸n Chileno Delicatessen | Eat the World Los Angeles

Friday, 22 January 2021

Rinc贸n Chileno Delicatessen

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COVID-19 UPDATE: The deli is tiny and basically takeout only to begin with. Signs on the door limit the space to a maximum of two at a time.

When you walk into Lawndale's Rinc贸n Chileno Deli, everything is immediately presented in front of you and can lead to a bit of a deer-in-headlights moment, especially in times where customers are limited and people are waiting behind you outside.
 
Under Chilean flags in front of you are wrapped up individual portions of desserts. To the left is a menu of sandwiches, empanadas, and extras. To your right, cases full of those empanadas and other homemade meals with stacks of cookies, pannetone, and condiments above. More snacks as well as bags of yerba mate find their home on shelves above. Take a deep breath.


The Lawndale location is spawned from the original on Melrose in East Hollywood that opened in 1973. They are just about as tiny, except for the attached restaurant that now lives up there. In better days that modest dining room is home to multi-generational families eating together on weekends and sharing stories and memories of back home and what brought them to Los Angeles, as well as passing on the cultures and food traditions to their children.

The second location has one table but has never been a place to sit and gather. It does provide Chilenos living in the South Bay an easier alternative to take home just about all the same foods. Besides these two shops, the only other current Chilean business operating in the Southland is based in Canoga Park.
 

For those that do not live in or around Lawndale but enjoy the beaches of the South Bay, the deli's offerings are perfect for pickup before setting up your umbrellas. They have many kinds of empanadas, including the savory and slightly sweet empanada de pino ($4.95, above and below), which is just about as large as they come.

Besides the size, these baked empanadas are like no other, with a taste very distinct from those of neighboring Latin American countries. The savory beef also has a black olive and hard boiled egg, while the sweetness is added by raisins and caramelized onion. The deli also has chicken and smaller beef versions, spinach and cheese, and ham and cheese empanadas.


The label of "national dish" is something that is always a bit fluid, and Chile might have the longest list of this or that claimed by one person or another, but the most unique of them might be the pastel de choclo ($9.99, below). They have a few of these in the refrigerated case ready to be reheated (if you choose), but they also work just as well to take home and stick in the oven.

Hidden beneath a burnt and crispy (in a good way) top layer is a savory corn and chicken casserole that also includes onions, raisins, and olives. The dark meat has all been taken off the bone, making this very easy to eat. Like the empanadas, it combines elements of sweet and savory. Without the meat, it could almost be eaten as a dessert.


Also perfect for taking to the beach or just for general takeout is a long list of sandwiches that are all with Chilean flair. They make great versions of Chilean arrollado, churasco, and milanesa, but if you are looking for a first taste from the deli try the unique chacarero (($7.99, below).

Like many of their sandwiches, this comes on their homemade hullulla bread, a Chilean specialty. Some consider this dry and boring, probably the result of the use of vegetable shortening, but with the right ingredients inside the light and airy bread works very well. In this sandwich, thin cuts of beef are combined with fresh green beans and tomatoes.
 
Viva Chile mierda!

As you can also do with the empanadas, throw some of their homemade hot salsa before starting. If this is not offered when ordering, you can request a container or two to spice things up.
 
A whole slew of pastries and desserts are available, including the small fluffy ojito ($1.25, below). The crumbly, flaky tube is filled with an apricot jam and dusted with powdered sugar, getting pretty sweet. If you are not far from home or plan to eat it immediately, also try the lucuma ice cream, made of course from the namesake fruit native to the valleys of the Andes Mountains.
 

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