If you had a grandmother in Madrid, her kitchen might look like Rincon Escondido Café. The small spot meaning “hidden corner” in Spanish has an Old World feel. Pots and pans and strings of dried chiles dangle from beams, and antique cabinets are filled with jars of olives, artichokes and peaches.
The menu offers tapas (try piquillo peppers stuffed with tuna tartare or fried goat cheese balls with orange blossom honey), charcuterie boards, montaditos (mini open face sandwiches) and bocadillos (small sandwiches). Stop for a few tapas and a glass of wine before a show at the Arsht Center or linger over paella.
Owner Emilio Fontan is the force behind the café. He was born in Bata, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony on the western coast of Africa. His mother was from the nearby Isle of Corisco, and his father was a civil engineer from Spain. The family relocated to Madrid, where Emilio met his American wife when she attended a play in which he performed.
The couple moved to the Bay Area and he was involved with several theater groups including the African-American Shakespeare Company. After visiting an artist friend in Miami, he moved here and opened the café, hiring Madrid native Santos Jimenez, a chef who learned to cook from his grandmother.
Start with silvery boquerones (marinated white anchovies) crisscrossed on toast rounds spread with minced bell peppers drizzled in olive oil or sautéed mushrooms and onions in sherry sauce.
Groups can share a tabla (wood board) with a selection of Spanish cheeses including hard, salty Manchego, soft, mild Tetilla and pungent, blue-veined Cabrales or a porcine spread of paper-thin Serrano ham, spicy chorizo, lomo embuchardo (cured pork loin) and hard Catalan salami.
There’s also garlic-laced chistorra sausage in apple cider, black rice with seafood and squid ink served with aioli, lamb chops with fried potatoes and sea bass in garlic lemon sauce.
Cap a meal here with crema Catalana and a cup of carrajillo (coffee with brandy).