Sandwich lovers should skip the gordita (the same flavors can be had, and better, as a huarache) and move into two-handed tortas. My favorite selection is the pierna (roasted pork leg). The meat is thin and moist with a flavor like bacon, and, thanks to melted cheese, avocado, and lettuce, the whole thing tastes like the Mexican equivalent of a ham and cheese sandwich.

There is a very good pambazo, too. More or less a version of the French dip, its soft white bread is soaked in a smoky red chile sauce instead of au jus, and the roast beef is replaced with potatoes, chorizo, lettuce, crema, and cheese. A quick trip to the griddle after it has been stuffed tightens the ingredients into one monstrous, hot mass — one that, for the timid, will require a knife and fork. For those using their hands, expect red-orange stained fingers, the tip of the nose smeared with filling, and most likely, a soiled shirt.

The only dessert at El Rinconcito is gelatina de flor, a paperweight-like dome of clear gelatin with a single, brightly colored flower made of fondant trapped inside. A staff member makes these labor-intensive treats, injecting the gelatin with edible colorings to make the flower. If you have had one before, you know that they are known more for their looks than their whisper-sweet taste and are typically served on special occasions.

El Rinconcito serves exceptional, real-deal Mexico City street food in a no-frills setting.
Jackie Mercandetti
El Rinconcito serves exceptional, real-deal Mexico City street food in a no-frills setting.

Location Info

Map

El Rinconcito del D.F.

8901 N. 12th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85020-3070

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: North Phoenix

Details

El Rinconcito del D.F.
8901 North 12th Street
602-943-5933
Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Huarache de suadero: $7
Tostada de pata: $4
Quesadilla de chicharron prensado: $5.50
Pambazo: $3.75

Having never tried a gelatina de flor, I considered this occasion special enough, and pointed to the crudely made posters advertising them on the wall, asking my server (in broken Spanish) if they were available. Beaming, she responded (in broken English) that they were. She quickly returned with a tray of the brightly colored flower bubbles, motioning for me to select my favorite.

And when did I know El Rinconcito was my kind of restaurant? The moment happened after my server placed my gelatina de flor down in front of me and started quietly singing a song in Spanish, clapping her hands while nearby diners looked on and smiled.

It wasn't my birthday, but it sure as hell felt like it.

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5 comments
catcaio
catcaio

If you are ready to eat damn near anything and prefer eating in your car, the most Mexican streetlike food that  can be found at any hour day or night , two restaurants located in the Hatcher/ 7th Street area is at Robertos.  It's cheap, and their cheese in non Lactic.

lee_blake
lee_blake

Correction, not going back to El Rinconcito.  I was killing off the last lamb taco tonight - bit into bone, which is OK, but then there were 2 pieces of skin of some sort, with 20 or so short dark hairs growing out - was this from a black sheep?   I am not remotely squeamish, I will eat damn near anything that is well prepared, but this was just too much - you have to wonder what else makes it into the food.  Damnation.   I've seen this in wild game, hunted, shot, and field dressed, but not in a restaurant - am I  overreacting?  I prefer to not anonymously disparage anyone, or their business - my email is lee_blake@msn.com.  

lee_blake
lee_blake

I would drive by this place on the way to Oaxaca, but stopped by today.  I ordered to go, not in the mood for no AC.  The lamb tacos are just monsters - they are plain, but they give you a bag of chopped onions and cilantro, and salsa.  I thought they were very good, The suadero huarache is also huge, and outstanding.  El Bravo is good, but still pretty basic Sonoran.  Los Reyes de la Torta is by far the best in the area - if not in town.  Tacos Don Chuy at Cave Creek and Hatcher is another dive that is worth trying - they  have an outside walk up window and a drive through.  The owner grills whole chickens outside, and a half chicken with rice and beans comes with grilled jalapenos and onions, and what may be the best salsa/hot sauce anywhere.   Plan on getting to go, not a place to hang out.  

inkbandit13
inkbandit13

for me el bravo and via de los santos are my prime sunnyslope spots

davelog
davelog

 @inkbandit13 Via's kinda disappointed me the last few times I've gone. I've driven by El Rinconcito twice a day for a decade, looks like it's about time I stopped and gave 'em a try.

 
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