Marisol Leon, left, who owns El Rincon Colombiano with her husband, Guillermo, is pictured at the Batavia restaurant with waitresses Melinda Amaro, center, and Elena Vega.
Marisol Leon grew up in Colombia, and is happy to share its flavors with Batavia diners.
She and her husband Guillermo opened El Rincon Colombiano Restaurant on Nov. 1 in Valu Plaza.
It’s a second Batavia restaurant for the Leons, who opened their Mexican restaurant, Rancho Viejo, four years ago on Ellicott Street.
Marisol Leon promises “a new experience” for local diners who are not familiar with the South American nation’s food.
“They can try different flavors and learn a little more about another country,” she said.
Marisol and Guillermo — who is from Mexico — originally opened the Valu Plaza location earlier this year as El Burrito Loco.
The switch from “El Burrito” to “El Rincon,” proves necessity is the mother of invention. After a good start, Marisol said, they had trouble finding a talented Mexican cook.
The solution? “Try Colombian,” Marisol said.
And hire Alberto Rincon, who brings both his name and talents as chef to El Rincon.
Rincon, like Marisol Leon, is a native of Bucaramanga, a city in Colombia’s northeast. He has moved to Batavia with his wife, Anamilde, who is responsible for El Rincon’s homemade baked goods.
The menu will seem familiar to anyone who enjoys Mexican food. But Mexican and Colombian cooking developed from different regions and traditions — like cousins who have a family resemblance, but very different personalities.
While far from being bland, Colombian food is not as spicy as Mexican, Marisol explained. You also won’t find tortillas or much salsa, and beans are not as prominently featured.
“A lot of steak and seafood,” is how Marisol describes El Rincon’s menu.
Colombian cuisine also features a lot of soups. (“Every day for lunch,” Marisol said.) In addition to a soup of the day, El Rincon serves cazuela de langosta (lobster) and cazuela de mariscos (seafood), creamy soups served with rice, salad and fried plantain slices.
Bandeja paisa, is one of Colombia’s most popular — and most generous — dishes. It includes rice, red beans and ground beef “cooked Colombian style,” along with egg, chorizo (pork sausage), avocado, plantain, arepa (flatbread) and chicharon (fried pork).
“It’s a lot of food,” Marisol said.
El Rincon has a children’s menu, and an “American” menu that includes cheeseburgers and roast beef sandwiches. Take-out is also available.
Marisol said they hope to have a liquor license in place within a month or so, after which the restaurant will serve aguardiente, a sugar cane liqueur; Ron Caldas, a Colombian rum; and Club Colombia beer.
The “flavors” of Colombia, extend also to El Rincon’s ambiance. That includes both the decor and the wait staff, which is outfitted in yellow Colombia National Soccer Team jerseys.
One wall has been painted white, and decorated with bright green and orange shutters and doors. It’s a reflection of the stucco walls and tile roofs of the “Pueblito Paisa,” a popular tourist attraction in Medellin, Colombia.
Marisol said it’s an opportunity to take a trip, without having to travel.
“People don’t need to go to Columbia,” she said. “They can find it here.”
El Rincon Colombiano is located at 4125 W. Main St. (Valu Plaza), Batavia. Winter hours are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays.
During summer, it will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Fridays.
El Rincon is closed Saturdays. For information call (585) 201-7602.
Batavia's El Rincon Colombiano Restaurant features Colombian decor, including a hammock and espadrilles -- a kind of slipper. The restaurant opened Nov. 1 in Valu Plaza.