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El Rincon Tico

Update 10/13/12: El Rincon Tico is now new Cafe Costa Rica.

In a word: Typically tropical.

The specs: #0752  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Eat Drink Madison, The Mad Samplers, A.V. Club, Yelp, Isthmus, Trip Advisor, Madison Magazine; official web site, El Rincon Tico on Urbanspoon

Latest El Rincon Tico news and reviews

JM ate four tacos with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the ceviche with patacones.
The bill was $25, or $12.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave El Rincon Tico an A-; Nichole gave El Rincon Tico a B (see our grading rubric).

El Rincon Tico is the little place to be warmed by light tacos on a cold night, or a good place to enjoy refrescas in the summer.  That said, it does have some user interface issues and sometimes the food misses as much as it hits.

We covered a very thin slice of the menu with our tacos and ceviche, but there's more to explore here, including breakfast and tropical cocktails. And they have nifty aluminum cups that really keep beverages cold without ice. Their lemonade is fantastic - sweet, sour and strong.

The assortment of four tacos was overall superior. Each was built on a single, grilled white corn tortilla (which fell apart) and was topped with shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomato, cilantro, and red sauce. The fish was the winner and worth the dollar more; in addition to the succulent battered tilapia, there was a little squirt of mayo-based sauce that added richness. Ground beef, shredded pork, and shredded chicken were all passable, but the fish was best.


CevicheThe ceviche was mostly chopped vegetables: a tiny bit of tilapia was flaked and mixed in with crunchy green and red peppers, cilantro, and too much sharp onion. It had a good lime flavor, but was not very satisfying. The patacones were hard, cold, and dry. A little aioli-something-something for them would have gone miles. We probably wouldn't try this dish again.

We've noticed that people often rag on the slow service at El Rincon Tico and sister restaurant Cafe Costa Rica. We figure it's just part of their thing. Parts of Madison want to be big-city hustle and parts want to be laid-back paradise, so they're bound to clash occasionally. (We're on record as being too uptight.) But when in Rome...


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