Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Taste test: El Cochinto
Ever since the revolution or thereabouts, Silver Lake has had a major concentration of Cuban settlers. I'm not sure if the old men still sit around puffing cigars at Cafe Tropical like they did when I first moved to Silver Lake, but it practically felt like Little Havana around here back then. You can still get a taste of Cuba at El Cochinito on Sunset. Since I last ate there 16 or so years ago, the room has been freshened up. It's still simple inside, but with fresh paint and new tables, the small space is pleasant and clean. It's such a neighborly place that there's an autographed headshot of our old neighbor, Dominican actor Juan Fernandez, on the wall.
The server helpfully explains all the specials, which include red snapper, swordfish, halibut and grilled shrimp. I get the shrimp with an ultra-garlicky sauce, which is rather salty but balances out a bit after mixing it with some rice and black beans. Matt has a healthy-sized portion of ropa vieja and we're both happy, snacking on some fried tostones as well.
Although we set off looking for Mexican food, we're both glad we tried something different, and we'll be returning soon for the breaded steak and some more fish or chicken dishes. The service is super friendly, and all the dishes are around $10-$12 including rice and beans. They even have beer.
Verdict: I like the food at Alegria, but after several bad experiences with the service I just don't have the energy for it anymore. Save the stress and the wait and go next door to El Cochinito instead for a down-home Cuban feast. Get there before 8:30 though, as they close up pretty early.
3508 W. Sunset Blvd.
(thanks to Cuban Food USA for the picture of the tostones!)