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The student newspaper of, by, and for Ames High School.

The WEB

The student newspaper of, by, and for Ames High School.

The WEB

Pupusas and Community: Rinconcito Hispano

Part restaurant, part grocery store, Rinconcito Hispano has become a center for authentic Hispanic dishes, and a haven for the Hispanic community.
Conchas%2C+a+Mexican+sweet+bread+topped+with+colored+sugar%2C+sit+in+a+display+case+in+the+center+of+Rinconcito+Hispanos+grocery+section.+They+are+one+of+the+many+hispanic+specialty+items+sold+at+the+store.+
Fyona Shi
Conchas, a Mexican sweet bread topped with colored sugar, sit in a display case in the center of Rinconcito Hispano’s grocery section. They are one of the many hispanic specialty items sold at the store.

Editor’s Note: The quotes featured within this article have been translated from Spanish to English and edited for clarity.

It’s close to one in the afternoon and Rinconcito Hispano is full. A group of ten men have come to the restaurant to eat lunch, and a couple with two little girls order ramen birria and sit in the corner together. People trail in to buy chicharrones, tortillas, queso fresco, and crema. The owner, Juan Carlos, unboxes a delivery that has just arrived. The door separating the kitchen and the restaurant does not stay closed. From the red baskets and plates that are carried out comes the smell of onions, slow-roasted beef, and hot broth. For many eating in the restaurant, it smells like home. It’s cold, caldo de res (beef soup) will sell best today. 

When Juan Carlos moved to the U.S. eight years ago, he left his family behind in Mexico to pursue work. With a working visa, Carlos began washing dishes at a local restaurant in Texas, eventually working his way up to become a server. In the middle of the pandemic, Carlos moved to Iowa from Nebraska, setting up his Tacos El Primo food truck in 2022. Last year, on the corner of the Northern Lights strip mall, Carlos built Rinconcito Hispano.

Juan Carlos, the owner of Rinconcito Hispano, sits in the middle of the seating area in Rinconcito Hispano. When Carlos moved to the U.S in 2014, he left his family behind in Mexico to pursue work. Building a restaurant was always his dream. (Fyona Shi)

“Not having my family in the U.S. made me want to fight for my dreams and create. My family was my inspiration to have this restaurant,” said Carlos. 

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Part restaurant, part Hispanic specialty store, Rinconcito Hispanico has become a haven for the Hispanic community in predominantly white Ames, Iowa.

 

“There are a lot of people that enjoy coming in and just sitting down to enjoy their favorite dish, and I’m really thankful for that…The Hispanic community in Ames has helped me to succeed,” said Carlos. 

My family was my inspiration to have this restaurant.

— Juan Carlos

When he opened Rinconcito Hispano, Carlos struggled for five months to build traction. Lacking publicity and customers, Carlos’ staff began to quit because there was little work to do. On the rare occasions that it was full, Carlos served, worked the kitchen, and managed the cash register. As his diners grew in number over time, so did his staff, many of whom came from across South America. 

“I love the friendships I am able to make here,” said Reina, a cook at Rinconcito Hispano. Reina, who has lived in the U.S. for a year and a half, is from Guatemala. She is responsible for making tortillas, pupusas, salads, zopes, and guaracha. It is the diversity of Juan Carlos’ staff that allows for the variety of dishes available at Rinconcito Hispano. 

At the counter customers can purchase specialty meats, such as chicharonnes (pork rinds). The case was recently introduced, and is one of the new editions the restaurant has added since gaining publicity. (Fyona Shi)

Every day the restaurant serves pupusas (tortillas filled with melted cheese or meat), tacos, tostadas (fried tortilla with meat, beans, and salad on top), and menudo (soup with cow belly). The origins of these dishes span Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador. 

“My goal is to make customers happy,” said Carlos. “I want to make them go back and try other things. My dream was to have something different, unique, and unforgettable.” 

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About the Contributor
Ethel Navarro
Ethel Navarro, Features Editor
This is Ethel’s first year on The WEB. She is a cheerleader, she is Hispanic, and she was born and raised in Honduras. Her favorite things to do are drawing and cheering. She loves spending time with friends and family, just enjoying the moments.
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