Food & Drink

‘Totally different’ dining experience taking off in State College

Lomo de cerdo is among menu items at El Gloton, a new dining experience that opens on Friday and Saturday nights in the Bagel Crust Cafe on Westerly Parkway in State College.
Lomo de cerdo is among menu items at El Gloton, a new dining experience that opens on Friday and Saturday nights in the Bagel Crust Cafe on Westerly Parkway in State College. adrey@centredaily.com

Latin nights have come to the Bagel Crust Cafe, in the form of a new dining experience called BCC El Gloton.

Alvaro Rusinque, owner of the cafe, is a native Colombian and said there was previously nothing like it in the area.

“We’re doing something totally different,” he said.

Every Friday and Saturday, from 5:30-9 p.m., the Westerly Parkway Bagel Crust Cafe space is packed with a crowd that Rusinque said is usually half-Latino, half-locals, in search of authentic, homestyle Latin cuisine with a Colombian bent.

Rusinque said the endeavor started as somewhat of an experiment, to see if it would even be a popular option for diners in the area. Rather than opening a new and separate location for the dining experience and betting on success, he took advantage of the kitchen and dining space already at his disposal, as the Bagel Crust Cafe closes down each day in the early afternoon.

But it doesn’t seem as if Rusinque had anything to worry about. Following what he calls great feedback, he and his team have kept the family-owned El Gloton going for about two and a half months. Confident in what they have to offer the hungry State College masses, they’re now looking to expand the opening hours to serve even more diners, with current capacity at about 70 per night, though they’re not aiming for their own space just yet. For the near future at least, El Gloton will stay at the Westerly Parkway Bagel Crust Cafe location.

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George Rusinque scoops spicy pico de Gallo to go with an order of empanadas at El Gloton on Friday, Oct 19, 2018. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

What kind of menu items can you expect at El Gloton? Rusinque stresses that, if you’re not familiar, the food is Latin, not Mexican, so if you expect tacos and tequila, you’ll have to go elsewhere.

Instead, fans of the new eatery dine on steak and chicken empanadas (which are some of the most popular menu items), arroz con pollo, yucca, plantains and an array of Colombian soups, which are Rusinque’s personal favorites. For both him and many of the diners at El Gloton, there’s nothing quite like a piping hot bowl of sopa de menudo, a slow-cooked tripe soup filled with an array of vegetables.

Dinner is topped off with scrumptious dessert options, like the highly praised torta de queso crema, a cheesecake cousin with a softer side. Those with food allergies will be glad to know that El Gloton’s menu is entirely gluten-free and parents can expose their budding foodies to new cuisine thanks to El Gloton’s kids menu.

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Arroz con pollo is among menu items at El Gloton, a new dining experience that opens on Friday and Saturday nights in the Bagel Crust Cafe on Westerly Parkway in State College. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

Rusinque plans to expand the menu “at some point,” possibly adding Spanish drinks alongside new food options. The establishment does not currently have a liquor license, but is BYOB. That hardly means you’re at a loss for drink options, though. You’ll find jugo de guanabana, a Latin fruit juice, as well as mango beverages. The coffee menu includes options like espresso and cafe con leche.

When the team expands their hours, which Rusinque hopes to do in the next month, they may also add a lunch menu.

“If you want a good, homemade meal, this is the place to go. Everything is cooked right in front of your eyes and the prices are really good,” Rusinque said.

To snag your seat at El Gloton, reservations are encouraged. Call 308-9321. You can also follow the El Gloton Facebook page, @bcclatinofood, to see all the weekly specials.

Holly Riddle is a freelance food, travel and lifestyle writer. She can be reached at holly.ridd@gmail.com.
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