Damian Rodriguez always worked in restaurants with the hope of one day owning one. He is by no means a classically trained chef, nor does he try to be one. What he does possess, however, is a knack for effortlessly hosting people and making them feel at home. On several occasions, I've witnessed him talking to customers for hours on end about everything from backpacking through Argentina to his newborn baby and lack of sleep.
When he had the chance to take over the quaint locale, Rodriguez didn't think twice. It was just the perfect size for what he wanted to do, which was to give patrons a focused and intimate experience. It begins as he pours you a glass of sangria and ends with him walking you outside after you've had your fill of tapas.
If you've ever been to Rincon Escondido, you'll notice minimal differences in the arrangement of the interior. Rodriguez has modified it a bit to make it more spacious, but it's still a sliver of a space. This is the kind of place you go on a first date because it's affordable but charming.
To run the kitchen, he's hired Laura Alzuri. The chef's specialty is Spanish cuisine. Hiding behind a chalkboard, checkered curtains, and a wall of pots and pans, she rings a bell when the food is ready. It's Rodriguez's cue to stop entertaining and start serving.
"We left a lot of the menu, but Alzuri really made it her own by infusing the flavors," Rodriguez explains. "There were some dishes we felt we're missing a little sazón, and we've added that."