The South American milanesa a caballo was food porn before Instagram: a massive cutlet of breaded beef topped with two fried eggs. It got its name (milanesa on horseback), not just for the visual of an anthropomorphic egg straddling the meat, but because its heftiness is presumably suited for a gaucho off for an afternoon in the pampas. Milanesa a caballo is a dish you can ask for in most Argentine restaurants in OC, usually accompanied by fries since Argentines never met a starch or protein they didn’t pile onto plates.
But at Rincón Argentino, milanesa a caballo gets stuffed into a sandwich and becomes the stuff of food contests. It’s nearly a foot long, now slathered in tomato sauce and covered with ham, mozzarella, and pointless lettuce. The heat of the sauce heats everything up so that yolk, cheese, and tomato melt onto the plate, drippings so rich they nearly make a meal unto itself. But the point is the sandwich, and whoever’s working the counter at this tiny Costa Mesa spot wisely splits the milanesa a caballo into three, since you’ll only eat one part and save the rest for the next two days.
Rincón Argentino, which only sells sandwiches, pizzas and empanadas even though they have a kitchen that’s nearly six times the size of their dining room. Everything’s delicious, if tried-and- true if you’ve ever visited an Argentine deli. The empanadas are flaky and fat; the sandwiches, on sturdy bread and composed of meat and more meat; the pizzas, fine. But Rincón Argentino has two things working for it besides the caballo that puts it above competitors. The chimichurri is the best you’ll taste in OC, tart and a tad spicy and perfectly oily; it could enliven drywall. And unlike nearly every Argentine restaurant in OC, this spot bakes its own pastries, and they’re superb. The alfajores are dense and sweet and come in small or gigantic sizes—you’ll swear off macarons after eating these. Even better are the pepas: shortbread cookies smeared with quince paste. It’s not the sweetest thing you’ll taste, because it’s better: crunchy, comforting, chido, che.
Rincón Argentino 2346 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-3299