The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
A colorful new facade drew me to La Hacienda del Rio, an El Salvadoran restaurant that, until now, had blended unobtrusively into the Huntington Station streetscape.
Inside was a cavernous dining room — some walls in need of a paint job. On one side was a bar area framed by a charming archway of artificial trees. On the other side of the room was the entrance to a bustling takeout shop.
Table service was slow, the room chilly. First came pupusas revueltas, very good corn cakes filled with an unctuous and savory mixture of pork and cheese, accompanied by the traditional spicy slaw topped with tomato sauce. Tacos de lengua (soft corn tacos with tongue) showered with chopped onion and cilantro was the standout of a trio that also featured a somewhat dry chicken taco as well as an over-grilled steak taco ($9). A meal-sized bowl of chicken soup ($12), rife with vegetables and bone-on poultry, was undermined by an overdose of salt.
Then came the highlight of lunch: rotisserie chicken, hot off the spit, encrusted with spices — juicy and flavor-infused to the bone. Worth the wait.
La Hacienda del Rio is at 1624 New York Ave., Huntington Station, 631-351-9797.
Above: From left, clockwise: Steak, tongue and chicken tacos at La Hacienda del Rio in Huntington Station