When Christian Saber and his wife Karly, who majored in business, opened Rincon Argentino in 2012, the chef and snowboarder realized a life-long dream. They had a vision to bring delicious Argentine food and soul to Boulder.
Seven years in and they’ve largely succeeded. Rincon, tucked at the corner of Arapahoe Ave. and Folsom Ave. (near McGuckins), serves up handmade emapanadas and cold beer in one of the coziest, relaxed restaurants Boulder has to offer.
Buenos Aires has an empanada shop on every corner. When Christian and Karly looked to open Rincon in 2012, Boulder had no Argentine restaurants, or even Argentine food. They thought, why not bring one here?
“We respect the tradition of handmade empanadas,” Christian says, adding that the restaurant leans into making its food by hand. “No empanada is the same.”
A traditional food from Spain, Empanadas feature filling wrapped in dough, which is then baked or fried. Rincon bakes theirs.
Rincon sells 15 varieties of empanadas ranging from simple-folded Tradicional, which features steak, onions, red peppers, green olives and spices, to the star-shaped Patagonia, which features garlic, cherry tomatoes, parmesan cheese and spices.
The Rincon kitchen is front and center where chefs fold empanadas and slide empanadas into open glass stove to heat to order behind a glass case. The exposed oven and prep area adds a warmth of sitting in a friend’s or relative’s kitchen, basking in conversation as someone’s preparing you a meal with love.
Rincon empanadas, at $3.85 a pop, offer a tasty meal full of variety.
A native of Argentina, Christian grew up eating his mother’s handmade empanadas, drinking traditional yerba mate, and enjoying the colors and flavors of a tight-knit Latin American community. After moving to Colorado’s mountains to pursue his passion for snowboarding, he met Colorado native Karly while working as a chef in Breckenridge.
They moved to Buenos Aires and lived for three years immersed in Argentinian culture and city life before looking for a quieter life.
“[The city of] Buenos Aires has nearly 3 million people, and we both love nature and smaller towns,” Karly says. “We talked and decided that we ought not settle ourselves in Buenos Aires,” Karly recounts.
After a short stint in Hawaii (another life-long dream of Christian who grew up surfing), they moved to Boulder when the couple became pregnant with their first son. Once in Boulder, friends started requesting they make empanadas for birthdays and parties
The empanada demand caught fire and the Sabers started thinking big.
Mate and more
The shop also features yerba mate, an Argentine tradition, and Terere (iced Yerba Mate mixed with orange juice and agave mint) and sells bags of tea in its in-house mini mercado.
To keep up with the growing demand, Rincon opened a 3,500-square-foot commissary kitchen in Gunbarrell, near Avery Brewing, where a crew of six people work every day making empanadas by hand. This allows Rincon to push out larger quantities of empanadas and grow its catering business.
Sticking to their ethos that handmade food tastes better, Rincon chefs chop and sautee all veggies by hand everyday and hand-pinch all empanada dough. This means teaching traditional Argentinian empanada techniques to all Rincon chefs.
The art of local
Remaining local also means really connecting and growing with the suppliers. It’s easier to maintain locally sourced organic food at a smaller scale, but when businesses start bumping food up to mass production, smaller local farms can’t keep up.
Though Rincon has started selling frozen empanadas in-house, it has no plans to wholesale its emapanadas. Christian wants to remain Boulder-focused. Initially, Rincon began to freeze the day’s unsold empanadas to eliminate food waste. Eventually, so many people were after that Rincon started offering them for take-home.
A local focus allows the restaurant to focus on quality, which benefits us all.
“This way, we can all grow together and be more sustainable,” Karly says.