El Rincón de Lucy: A Party on Your Peso

Only on the inside of the restaurant will you see the sign: El Rincón de Lucy. Nothing on the outside of the establishment will give an indication that it’s a restaurant that’s colloquially called Lucy’s.

On my first day in Salento, a British couple in my hostel asked if I’d like to join them at a place that they said was good and incredibly reasonable for only 6,000.

The restaurants in and around Salento all seem to serve farm-cultivated, set, trout plates.

When the couple used the words reasonable, bargain, cheap and good, I was sold on joining them.

There is no menu.  The options given are often chicharon or sausage, pollo or chicken or trucha or trout.  I always opt for the latter as my goal is to stay away from land animal flesh food.

Just minutes or less after ordering with the simple one word answer of chicharon, pollo or trucha, a generously sized purée vegetable soup comes out in a bowl.  A banana sits on the plate that the bowl rests on.  In a side dish is a small bowl of aji or Colombian style spicy salsa.

Depending on your susceptibility to picante, use caution as to how much you put in your soup. With or without the salsa, this veggie soup charms the digestive tract with a feeling of warming comfort.

After this soothing starter is consumed, you’ll wait just a bit before the main course comes out.

While you’re waiting, a big cup of the freshly squeezed juice of the day is served.  On some days it’s Tomate de arbol or tree tomato, which is a tropical tomato that grows on a tree.

Other fruit juices I’ve been served at Lucy’s are maricuja or passion fruit and guayaba or guava juice.  You can’t choose.  You get whichever juice it is they’re serving that day.  They’re all delicious and much fresher than anything I’ve had in the US or Europe.  And like the soup, the portions are generous.

The amount of plates ahead of you will determine your wait time.

Before you know it, a steaming, hearty array of healthy goodness is set in front of you.

They usually ask: veggies or beans.  The first day I ate there I asked for both and haven’t been asked on five following visits.  I always get both at no extra charge.

On top of my wholesome dish was a very decently sized bowl of beans that I’d often pour on my white rice that always comes in the center of the dish.

A lemon wedge that often looks like an orange wedge is set next to the fish.  I usually squeeze it atop my trout and then on top of everything else on the plate.

Beside the rice is a portion of ensalada that’s much like a cole slaw mixed with shredded carrots.  A healthy bit of warm green beans is hugged by a naturally sweet plantain strip.

An arepita or small, round, Colombian corn tortilla is sits atop the trout.  Between the plantain strip and ensalada is what’s called a choclo: a Colombian lightly fried pocket filled with fresh, naturally sweet corn.  For me, choclos are so tasty that after I eat one, I feel like I want to eat ten more.

The astounding thing about this meal is that for 6,000 pesos or $3.37 you’re getting a complete, delicious and nutritious meal.  Including the lime wedge and aji I’ve counted 12 items.  It’s really astounding, 12 hearty and tasty items for three bucks and some change.  Call it 10 items if you’d like and the value is just as incredible.

Usually it costs more for healthy food and less for that which is unhealthy.  But there’s always an exception to every rule.  Lucy’s is that anomaly.

In my Latin American travels, it’s rare that I’ve counted five servings of veggies plus trout and beans on one plate or included in one set meal.  Add two fruit servings to the equation and you’ve got an incredibly balanced meal at a ridiculously low price.

I’ve only eaten at two other restaurants in Salento.  Both had only a quarter of the servings and cost at least twice as much.

I’ve talked to around 20 people about Lucy’s and asked if they know of anything better in this tiny town.  Everyone, both foreigners and locals alike say something silimar which I’ve paraphrased:

For the quality, quantity and price, there is nothing in Salento that comes close to Lucy’s.

This open kitchen sits in the back.  There are usually the three you see toiling during the busy lunch and dinner rush.

Tourists and locals alike enjoy Lucy’s for the exact same reasons.  It’s delicious, nutritious, hearty and by far the best value in town.

–   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

Lucy’s two blocks from the center on Calle 6.   If you can’t find it, ask anyone, they’ll point you in the right direction.

Lucy’s is open seven days a week from 11 am until around eight or nine.  They close when they feel like it. 

Considering Lucy’s offers the same thing at the same price for both lunch and dinner, I typically tend to go late in the day.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mamma on February 5, 2012 at 23:17

    Lucy’s both looks and sounds delicious!
    Are you staying put for a while?


  2. AL: Actually it’s an amazing deal for here. In Asia you can easily spend that and get a very decent meal. I think that better deals can be had in Thailand, Cambodia and India, compared to in most countries in Latin America. It’s still great to get a very good meal for just over three bucks here though…


  3. Posted by Al on February 4, 2012 at 21:55

    Wow, that´s an amazing deal -pricewise sounds more like south Asia, doesn´t it?


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