113 Rivington St (near Essex St) 212-982-6412. Mon-Sun 8am-12am. F to Delancey, JMZ to Essex St. Average entrée $9.
An ugly restaurant with a mouth watering menu, El Castillo neither disappoints nor overcharges. It takes discipline to order something besides fried plantains, but the rest of the menu is worth exploring. There are steaks, fried chicken and sundry fish, all served with red beans and rice. The chuleta especial plate is an amalgam of fried pork and sides, essentially making three meals for eight dollars. There isn’t much offered for vegetarians–even the vegetable soup has meat in it–but a plate of vegetables and rice and an avocado salad makes a pleasant, if simple meal. The ingredients are fresh and everything is intelligently spiced.