El Rinkoncito Peruano: Authentic Peruvian Food in Jersey City

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Whether you like ceviche in American seafood restaurants or not, you’ll surely love the Peruvian version, proudly regarded as a national dish and essentially, its sweet, tomato-cucumber-avocado-loaded American cousin stripped to the bare minimum. It consists only of raw fish marinated in citrus juice, simply garnished with thinly sliced red onions, and accompanied with large-kernel corn and wedges of sweet potatoes and to assuage the acidity. The lime-based marinade scours the palate clean, and the semi-translucent fish, done right, is tender and sweet. El Rinkoncito Peruano serves up dishes like this, and much more. Read on to learn more about this must-try Latin restaurant in Jersey City.

About The Restaurant

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A local place to find really good Peruvian ceviche is El Rinkoncito Peruano. From the outside, it looks not unlike other Peruvian eateries dotted along the Weekhauken-Jersey City stretch of Central Avenue – minimal decor, the constant stream of eaters, and the hustle in the kitchen. Run by a father-son duo, the restaurant has been serving the local Peruvian diaspora since 2013 and is still going strong with its authentic cooking. 

The Menu

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The menu may not be as expansive as some other local Latin American eateries but focuses on the mainstays of Peruvian cuisine. Start the meal with beef heart anticucho {skewer}, popular street food in the Andes region that has its origin in the pre-Columbian era. The meat dressed simply tastes subtly spicy and pleasantly gamey. It comes in huge chunks, and the texture is lean but tender, achieved by the quick grilling.

Seafood is El Rinkoncito Peruano’s strongest suit. Of course one can get the ceviche, which is always refreshing on the palate. A different but equally interesting variation is Leche de Tigre, served in a wine class {if dining in}. After picking out the shrimp, finish the dish by drinking straight the citrusy marinade, which is thickened with pulverized fish. 

Read More: El Gordo Eatery: A Taste of Peru In Jersey City

For hot seafood dishes, get Jalea, a heaping mound of fried crab, shrimp, and calamari, tossed with chewy bites of corn and served with crispy cassava. On the soupy side, there is Sudado de Marisco, a umami-loaded seafood stew with an extremely flavorful tomato-pepper based broth.

However, the most iconic everyday Peruvian food that can be found at literally every street corner in any working-class Lima neighborhood is Pollo a la Brasa, the Peruvian take on the humble rotisserie chicken and a must-try at El Rinkoncito Peruano. 

Whole chickens are marinated in a vinegar-spices mix, the piquant flavor of which seeps all the way through the crispy skin into the juicy meat. Dip the meat in the minty, spicy green sauce. The taste is bright, vibrant, rich, and refreshing at the same time. Wash it down with chicha morada, a sweet tangy beverage made of purple corn ladled into paper cups from a huge container – the same way as in a Cusco open-air market. 

The Experience

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The neighborhood, despite its proximity to the quickly-transforming Heights area, has largely kept its no-frills, working-class vibe. Central Avenue is dotted with corner stores selling jars of aji panca paste {an Andean chili pepper paste} and stacks of chicharron {fried pork skin}. On weekends, after-church crowds pour into local bakeries taking away boxes of alfajores and churros. 

Like other Latina-owned businesses catering to the local crowd, El Rinkoncito Peruano is low key on social media and other advertising platforms, drawing a mostly local audience mainly by word of mouth. “Being Peruvian and living in New York, I have been searching for a place that really tastes authentic.” A yelp user raved. 

See More: Must-Try Latin Restaurants in Hoboken + Jersey City

For others, it served as a gateway to the dazzling and {surprisingly} unknown Peruvian food culture. “I’d never had Peruvian food before but if this is what it’s like keep me signed into the happy club!!” another reviewer wrote. 

Of course, for those who have traveled to the country and been fascinated by its stunning biodiversity {yes, your beloved quinoa bowl is on the highlander’s everyday menu} that nurtured its glorious food tradition, the little corner can be a comforting reminder of the stunning tastes in the mountains and by the sea, and inspire your future culinary adventures.

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Yiwei was born and raised in China. She has lived extensively in Beijing and Hong Kong, before finally settling down in New York. She moved to Hoboken after a few years in Westchester and immediately felt at home here. Two years ago, she left her job at an investment bank to travel the world and explore her interests, and has since then taken on a few freelancing gigs in career coaching, college admission consulting, and writing. When she is not wandering wildly in the streets of Europe, Asia, or Latin America, she can be found sipping an espresso in one of Hoboken's coffee shops or trying out restaurants in Hoboken and Jersey City area.