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Rincon Criollo – Cuban Flair in Las Vegas

OK, you’re over it. You’re ready to divorce yourself from the Strip and its claustrophobic cluster of people, flashing lights, blaring music and encroaching buildings all bleeding together and assailing the senses.

Breathe. Here’s one antidote, at the far end of Las Vegas Boulevard, in a very humble strip mall. Rincon Criollo is a hole-in-the-wall in the best possible meaning. It’s a Cuban restaurant with an utter lack of posturing.

Dallas doesn’t have many homey Cuban food options, which makes Rincon Criollo worth a lunch trip no matter what your budget is. The cooking here has soul: roasted, marinated pork leg falls into tender, ropy chunks. The chicken in the arroz con pollo tastes fresh, and the yellow rice is gently but distinctively seasoned. The Cubano sandwich yields an honest crunch, and scattered slivers of pickle perk up the layered meats between the bread slices.

Don’t forget the sides: maduros (mashed ripe plantains drizzled with olive oil), yucca fries with a garlic-infused dipping sauce and even avocado slices to further enrich the pork leg.

The laid-back service (there may be one person waiting tables) and determinedly plain interior presents a contrary vision of Las Vegas to what most visitors experience. But it can be soothing to enter a glitz-free zone. Perhaps some flan and a strong coffee before you head back?