Rincon Latino serves up soothing Central American comfort food 

When décor is of no concern — like at so many restaurants on the stretch of ethnic nirvana that is Buford Highway — food is often given the spotlight it so rightly deserves. The bus station vibe of Rincon Latino (5055 Buford Highway, Doraville, 770-936-8181) may be off-putting, but the homey Central American food keeps loyalists coming back for more.

Ask anyone and they will tell you the pupusas ($1.85) are the thing to order. Thick disks of speckled masa filled with a slew of ingredients – cheese, beans, pork and loroco (an edible blossom used in Central American cooking) – are cooked on the griddle and served with a contrastingly tangy curtido (a pickled Salvadoran slaw/sauerkraut) that cuts through any heaviness. While the pupusas are undoubtedly the star, the "Pollo Dorado Salvadoreno" or "fried chicken Salvadorian style" ($9.99) is a must-try for any self-respecting fried bird enthusiast. Small pieces of marinated chicken are fried until they almost resemble Mexican chicharrones (pork rinds) in appearance and texture. The crispy nuggets come with creamy refried beans sprinkled with crumbled queso fresco, glistening white rice dotted with peas and carrots, finely shredded lettuce, fried plantains and gorgeous handmade tortillas for wrapping.

Batons of fried yucca ($1.99) are crunchy at first bite before revealing a delightfully sticky and glutinous interior – a dash of hot sauce counteracts any inherent dryness. Custardy plantains studded with crystallized bits of caramelized natural sugars are heaven on their own, but equally good with the velvety sour cream ($1.99), beans ($2.99) or both ($3.99). Massive goblets of vibrant "Coctel de camaron" ($9.99/small or $10.99/large) brim with a slightly sweet tomato sauce, fresh tasting curls of shrimp, cubes of creamy avocado, diced onion and grassy bursts of cilantro you can scoop up with toasty tortilla chips. Delicioso.


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