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“Interesting flavors”
Review of El Rincon Tico - CLOSED

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El Rincon Tico
Cuisines: Costa Rican
Restaurant details
Reviewed 19 February 2012

The food at El Rincón Tico is very tasty. The menu looks like pretty standard Mexican fare, but the food is actually Costa Rican, and the blends of spices are a welcome change. I had a popusa, which is a house-made tortilla served open-face with toppings of beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro, and meat or plantain, drizzled with a tangy mango sauce. It was the right amount of food; i.e., not huge, which I appreciate. My husband had a burrito, which was about average size for a restaurant burrito, which, to me, means huge. We also ordered the sweet plantain as an appetizer. It was four long strips, spiced, fried, and served with a chili sauce (I think) and a couple of sauces the server brought to the table. I loved the habañero sauce and that it came in a spotlessly clean bottle. (I hate sauces in filthy bottles. Gross.) There was also a cilantro sauce, which was also good, but I preferred the other, which surprised me because I am kind of a cilantro freak.

The two entrees, appetizer and one drink cost $21 before tip. Pretty cheap eats.

The exterior is inviting. The interior was plain and smelled a bit greasy. I don't know what used to be here, but it is typical Willy Street shabby. Chic is up to you. There were three customers inside when we got there at prime time on a Saturday night, which made us wonder if we'd made a mistake, but we gave it a shot, and we're glad. The food, not decor, was why we came, and it was great.

Service was quick, informative, and attentive without being annoying. Many dishes can be catered to vegetarian or vegan diets. The night we were there, the credit card machine was out of order (They took checks – I don't know if that's normal or not.) and they were out of Coke and Sprite.

I hear the place is a sit-down expansion of Mango Man food cart.

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Thank WanderingVeggie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviews (5)
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2 - 5 of 5 reviews

Reviewed 29 December 2011

We wanted to love the new Costa Rican place on Willy street. We have been to Costa Rica, and we have frequented the semi-overpriced Cafe Costa Rica on South Butler. It just wasn't quite up to par in a very competative Madison restaurant market.
El Rincon Tico is located in a transformed house on Willy street. There's nothing wrong with that, except it still felt like we were in a restaurant that used to be a house.
We started with spinich empanadas, plantains and patacones. We enjoyed all. For entrees we ordered the tico steak tacos, the fish dinner and a veggie stew that was on special that night.
The steak for the tacos was described as being marinated for the last few days. It didn't seem to help the toughness of the meat. I didn't notice the flavor because the tacos self-destructed after the first bite. Quite the mess. The fish appeared to have been overcooked because our friend avoided the dark ouside, and ate the center out of it. The veggie stew had great flavor, but it arrived without a spoon. The veggie special was $16.99. That's a really big number for a veggie dish of any kind. It's really hard to justify that kind of price with what we got.
Overall we left a bit disappointed. I hope Mango Man hasn't spread himself too thin by opening this second location. The inital buzz was that El Rincon Tico was supposed to be a less pricey, Costa Rican street food type of eatery. It isn't at this time.

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Thank CombustionJustin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 November 2011

Went to El Rincon Tico for lunch with a group of colleagues. The place is reminiscent of a "fonda" that you might find in a latin american city. The decor is not fancy.

For appetizers, the group split up some empanadas and fried yuca. The empanadas needed some "oomph" provided by some sauce provided in some squeeze bottles. The empanadas were OK, but unremarkable.

The entree that I had was basically an open face taco. It was tasty and relatively good but nothing special.

The music that was being played was definetely not Costa Rican over even latin american. It would seem to me that you would want to play some salsa, merengue or other latin american music.

Basically, it was an OK experience, but I have had much better.

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Thank Papo_del_wikend
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 November 2011

We went to Rincon Tico excited for the fantastic costa rican food we had heard about from the owner's Mango Man food cart. While none of the food was terrible, it just wasn't good. My partner had fried whole fish, which was nice, but the side of plantains was disappointing. I had a chicken stew, which I really was unimpressed with. The tastiest thing on my plate was the side of beans. My friend ordered a fish burrito, which she described as mediocre. The drinks were not spectacular either. I ordered a mojito, which was made from dried mint and tasted more like cane sugar than lime or mint.

The service was not up to par either, the server made us feel like we were a bother. And when we asked to split our check he gave us a big sigh and said "Yeah, I GUESS I can do that."

On a second occasion my partner and I decided to try it again for breakfast (which they advertise outside). We arrived around 10 and not a single person was there. We waited for 5 minutes at the doorway and no one greeted us. A woman walked in, smiled at us, then proceeded to walk into the kitchen without saying a word. She left, and STILL no one greeted us. At that point, we gave up.

I hate writing bad reviews, especially for a business owner in my own neighborhood. But, I feel we gave this restaurant a fair shot and they blew it.

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1  Thank eafalendysz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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