Food gemsWorld

El Rincón de Marco: an authentic Cuban bar hidden in the backstreets of Lavapiés

2 May 2017
Jesús, owner of El Rincón de Marco

One end of Calle Cabestreros has Baobab Senegalese, Antigua Taquería and Lopéz y Lopéz pizzeria, and it opens out onto the buzzing 24-hour Plaza Nelson Mandela so you’d be forgiven for not paying much attention to the opposite end. But illuminating the dimly lit end of the street with a distinctive dusk-pink glow is a little Cuban bar blasting Caribbean music through its sealed windows.

Step inside through the angled doorway and be met with local Latinos moving their hips to a YouTube playlist made by the owner, Jesús. The space is small – there are around six tables lined up along the side wall, but there’s plenty room for a few pairs to get up and dance.

The dining area by the bar

The dining area by the bar

Amongst the photos, maps of Cuba and other memorabilia hung on the walls, there’s a jolly portrait of Jesús. Opposite this portrait, in a niche inside the pillar, stands a small shrine with two burning candles, an alcoholic offering and a cup full of coins.

The small shrine

The small shrine

On the bar, Jesús always puts out a fresh vase of flowers, and the wall behind is lined with an impressive selection of world spirits.

The bar area with stools

Pull up a stool at the bar

Like all great bars, El Rincón de Marco is decorated very personally. It makes the place unique and homely – you almost feel like you’re eating in someone’s kitchen, not a restaurant.

THE FOOD

Jesús puts on a simple selection of typical Cuban dishes. The laminated menu of raciones does the job and nothing more, but there are also photos of the food on the wall by the bar to help.

El Rincón de Marco's menu

El Rincón de Marco’s menu

In the photos below, we have picapollo (battered and deep-fried spicy chicken wings), ropa vieja (a delicious and tender dish of moist shredded beef), pierna (slices of marinated Cuban pork), the amazingly gooey yuca, and arroz moro (Cuban-style rice with black beans) – and every plate came with a generous pile of patacónes (slices of savoury green plantain).

A plate of pierna and yuca

A plate of pierna and yuca

Just some of the amazing Cuban meat dishes

Just some of the amazing Cuban meat dishes

Picapollo - spicy chicken wings

Picapollo – spicy chicken wings

Dinner for five, including an good old cubo of five botellínes, came to €33 or just €6.60 each.

Our bill between five

Our bill between five

Who doesn’t want a night of amazing Cuban food backed by Caribbean music and spontaneous dancing? Let El Rincón de Marco transport you to Cuba in mind, hip and stomach, and inspire you to visit Cuba itself at the next earliest convenience.

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