El Cochinito is a cozy little place sandwiched between a thrift store and a dental clinic inside a strip mall (on the more ghetto side of the Sunset Strip), where loud chatter and forks crashing down on plates compete with lively salsa music.
El Cochinito has healthy meals at affordable prices. The great service, delicious meals and warm atmosphere also make patrons feel at home – and then some, depending on the number of people being served.
Before ordering, get prepared for the generous portions of triangular toasted bread with gobs of butter, set out to curb the monster in your belly until the main meal comes along. Once it’s time to order, there are a variety of daily lunch specials to choose from ranging from carne con papas (beef stew with potatoes, $6.50) to roasted pork with mixed rice ($9.50). Popular specialties include the roasted chicken cooked in a citrus sauce with onions ($7.95), and chicken fricassee ($7.95).
Seafood lovers can enjoy the juicy shrimp with tangy yellow rice ($10.50) or shrimp in garlic sauce ($10.50). Carnivorous connoisseurs can sink their teeth into tender ropa vieja (which literally translates to "old clothes" but is actually shredded beef) or the succulent roasted pork ($10.50). Both dishes come with black rice and beans. For vegetarians, EL Cochinito offers a choice of a mixed or avocado salad ($4.50).
If you’re looking for a light lunch, try a bowl of chicken soup with carrots and a small ear of corn ($3.75), a Cuban sandwich with lettuce, ham, pork and roast beef ($5.25) or a ham, potato and onion omelet ($6.95). And be sure not to leave without trying a side dish of fried green bananas ($2.95), which are round and hard, or fried sweet bananas ($2), which are oblong and soft.
If there’s room for dessert, try the better version of vanilla pudding called natilla, with a touch of cinnamon ($2.25). Forgo the soda and try a Materva (heavy dark caramel soda), a Jupina (pineapple soda) or a frothy Mamey milkshake. It’s also customary (let’s make that mandatory) to have a small cup of Cuban coffee ($1.50). Or for those with a sweet tooth, try the café con leche ($3.25).
If you’re looking to enjoy a little taste of Cuba without breaking your wallet, El Cochinito is the place to be. For your first visit, stop in for the lunch specials priced from $5.95 to $8.25 or the dinner specialties priced from $7.95 to $15.95.
Hours: Sun.-Wed. 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Thurs.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Daily lunch specials are available from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.