Rincon Melania


Bolon Mixto Cheese Chicharron Rincon Melania Queens

Ecuadorian is one of the cuisines that is widely available in Western Queens. In particular, Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona have a plethora of carts and restaurants offering dishes from the South American nation. We have eaten at several of the carts and trucks, but admittedly haven’t tried any proper sit-down Ecuadorian restaurants.
That changed recently when we went to the recently-opened Rincon Melania, a family-run restaurant located a bit off the beaten path in Queens. The area is a curious one. Technically, it is an industrial stretch of Queens Blvd in Long Island City, but just blocks from Sunnyside.  The restaurant itself is located in a mini strip mall next to a Subway and a liquor store.

 

 

Passion Fruit Shake Guanabana Shake Tomate de Arbol Shake Rincon Melania Queens
Once inside, the space was charming with plenty of decor from the country. From the outset, the family-run vibe was evident and everyone was friendly. We came with a good friend who loves to eat and ordered a nice array of dishes from the menu.
To start, we chose three different fruit shakes. Each had a distinct flavor and had more fruit flavor than sugar. From the tangy maracuya (passion fruit) to the creamy guanabana (soursop) and mix of tart and sweet tomate de arbol , we were satisfied with each. Along with the delicious complementary fried cancha (corn kernels) with a creamy spicy green sauce, it was a sign of delicious things to come.

 

Llapingachos Rincon Melania Queens Ecuadorian Food

First up, we ordered a crispy bolon mixto, a deep-fried ball of mashed plantain stuffed with cheese and chunks of chicharron. The combination of those three ingredients and fried is generally unlikely to disappoint. This held true here and we scarfed it down quickly.  Up next were llapingachos, fried potato pancakes that are filled with cheese. What we liked about these was that the outside had a nice crisp, with the tomatoes and onions adding a refreshing touch.
Grilled Octopus Rincon Melania Ecuadorian Food Queens

 

After these two appetizers, we had one more on the way. Grilled octopus is a dish that is usually a must-order at any restaurant we go to and here was no different. Although technically classified as an appetizer,  it was large enough to be a main course dish. We enjoyed the unique preparation, as it had a nice level of char but was also very tender. On top, there were chopped red bell peppers, onions, oregano and cilantro as it bathed in a vinaigrette.  This was a sh0w-stopper of a dish that was our favorite of the meal.

 

Ceviche Mixto Rincon Melania Queens

Ceviche is one of the signature dishes of Ecuador. During a 2013 visit to Guayaquil and surround coastal towns, I ate plenty of the ketchup-laced ceviche del camaron (shrimp). Before we decided on a ceviche, I asked the friendly waiter if they used ketchup in the ceviche mixto. He said that it came with fish, octopus and shrimp, but that it wasn’t saucy and didn’t have ketchup. Once the dish arrived, it looked very similar to Peruvian style ceviche we had tasted. But, we immediately noticed how well-balanced the flavors were. Instead of leaning on salt or tang, it had a very fresh taste that allowed the flavor of the seafood to shine. We also detected more herbs, including what tasted like mint. The portion size was deceptively large, as the middle of the plate is deep. This was another winner.

Guatita Tripe Rincon Melania Queens Ecuadorian

Our last two main dishes reverted back to land, as we immediately were drawn to the guatita and seco de chivo. Guatita, a dish with tripe and potatoes in a peanut-flavored sauce was a favorite of ours from an Ecuadorian food truck in Jackson Heights. Here, the gaminess of the tripe is more pronounced and the sauce had much less of the peanut flavor compared to the truck. Our group was mixed here, ranging between enjoyment to the dish being just OK.

Seco de Chivo Rincon Melania Queens

As for the seco de chivo, we were impressed with how tender the chunks of stewed goat were. In fact, one of us thought that there was beef mixed in with the goat due to the lack of gaminess. This is how well-cleaned and prepared the goat was. It was a winner at the table. We also enjoyed that both of these dishes came with a healthy portion of sliced avocado atop yellow rice. Along with the avocado was a superb sweet plantain, perfectly moist and caramelized on the outside.

Tomate de Arbol Ice Cream Ecuadorian Dessert Rincon Melania Queens

Although we were quite full, the saying “there’s always room for dessert” held true. We were offered an off-menu item of tomate de arbol fruit covered in vanilla ice cream with Ecuadorian cookies on the side. It had an immediate appeal to us, as all of the ingredients were Ecuadorian. The presentation was stellar, as the bright orange fruit had a long green tip. Taste-wise, it was a good balance of the tangy fruit and the sweet creamy ice cream. On the side, the crunchy lemon-cream filled cookies worked nicely.
Overall, Rincon Melania was an excellent first-time Ecuadorian sit-down dining experience for us. It is a great example of a under the radar, hidden gem. We hope to return soon and try more of the menu.
Where are your favorite places for Ecuadorian food in NYC? Any favorite Ecuadorian dishes? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Rincon Melania can be found on our Queens food maps, in the Sunnyside and Woodside map.
Rincon Melania
35-19 Queens Blvd
Queens, NY 11101
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