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Party Size
For 2
Date
Fri, 4/20
Time
7:00 PM

El Criollo

3.8
40 reviews
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$30 and under
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Cuban
Top Tags:
  • Neighborhood Gem
  • Great for Lunch
  • Good for Groups
El Criollo has established itself as a freshly modern, yet still traditional full-service restaurant in the bustling downtown Van Nuys area. We of El Criollo are driven by the genuine aim to provide excellent, personable service complemented by the finest, most flavorful Cuban cuisine.

El Criollo's interior includes classic exposed brick walls, a high open ceiling, beautifully soft serenading Cuban music and poster-size images of vintage magazine covers and print ads. The restaurant offers deliciously delectable food with an updated, though still very classic look and feel – so much like a bodega in Old Havana. Our spacious dining room seats 60-plus with a bar offering fabulous wine, beer and cocktails.
Dining Style
Casual Dining
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Cuisines
Cuban
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Hours of operation

Lunch: Tuesday - Friday: 11:30AM - 4:00PM. Saturday - Sunday: 12:00PM - 4:00PM.
Dinner: Tuesday - Wednesday, Sunday: 4:00PM - 8:00PM. Thursday - Saturday: 4:00PM - 9:00PM.
Closed: Monday.
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Phone number
(818) 785-8625
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Payment options
Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Niurca Sera
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Private party facilities
We offer the restaurant for private events and gatherings.
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Private party contact
Albert Sera: (818) 785-8625
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Catering
El Criollo offers catering for all types of occasions. Whether your hosting a small gathering or a large event, we can accommodate you.
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
Kittridge St.
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Parking details
There is a private lot behind the restaurant that is accessible via an alley that can be entered from Kittridge St. or Vanowen St. Parking is allowed on the restaurant and dental office sides.
Additional
Beer, Corkage Fee, Delivery, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Takeout, Wheelchair Access
What 40 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
3.8based on all time ratings
4.0
food
3.9
service
3.3
ambience
4.2
value
Noise · Moderate
81% of people would recommend it to a friend
  • 5
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  • 3
  • 2
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2.0Dined on March 31, 2018

Chicken was tough Overcooked

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5.0Dined on February 15, 2018

We have been coming to El Criollo for many years and the foo and service is always great. My wife, kids and I very much like coming over.

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3.0Dined on August 17, 2017

Great homemade Cuban specialties cooked with love and care.

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5.0Dined on June 3, 2017

El Criollo had fantastic Cuban food! The shrimp in garlic was amazing as was the Ropa Vieja.

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4.0Dined on September 3, 2016

Good selection of food. Very tasty.

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4.0Dined on August 24, 2016

Seems everytime i come here there is a different server. This time it was a guy. Very handsome and made a very good sangria for me. Carlitos, who works in the kitchen, was very friendly and sat down and talked with us a bit.

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3.0Dined on May 7, 2016

This place was good, but there wasn't anything that we would go back for. The best thing we had was the yuca in garlic.

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4.0Dined on January 30, 2016

Service was fantastic. The Ox tail was very tasty.

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3.0Dined on August 20, 2015

To start off, the restaurant was too hot. The air conditioning was either broken or set too high. There were no diners in the restaurant when we arrived and only one server. We ordered drinks and they had little to no ice. The appetitizers were good. The entrees were hit or miss. My fish looked and tasted like it was from Costco. The pork dishes were dry. Sides were good. To top it off, the server added 18% to the bill for our party of 7. It was not an 18% tip meal. Overall: Average at best. Probably will not return.

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5.0Dined on July 29, 2015

I enjoyed a delicious lunch that compared favorably to the many great meals I had in Cuba last year.

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5.0Dined on June 12, 2015

This was the first time eating at El Criollo and I would highly recommend this to everyone. The menu is extensive with traditional Cuban flavors featured. Our server recommend a few of her favorites and we were very impressed. She also made one tasty mojito!

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4.0Dined on February 14, 2015

Delicious Cuban food, not terribly overpriced, low key ambiance good for a family get together / weekend dinner.

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5.0Dined on December 31, 2014

Mojitos and margaritas great and handmade, food is tasty and flavorful, some of the best Cuban flavor around! Owner committed to excellent service.

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4.0Dined on August 24, 2014

I really love the food in this place. I'm Cuban born and raised so believe me when I tell you the food is amazing! But, and here comes the butt, the lighting in this place kills the mood. Also when I showed up last time they had the TV on instead of music. If I want to watch some badly spanish voiceover movie and could just stay home and tune into Univision. These does really kill the vibe of the place.

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3.0Dined on June 15, 2014

This place was recommended by cuban friends as an authentic cuban restaurant. It was ok...not better than versailles. Looked like a family owned restaurant, very friendly but extremely slow especially for it not being so busy.

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4.0Dined on April 5, 2014

Really good food. Everyone at my table tried a different dish which we all tasted, everything tasted great. This restaurant has been here for years, definitely worth a try. We will go back.

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4.0Dined on January 4, 2014

The food was very good and authentic. It was my first time and I would go back. I want to try so many more dishes.

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5.0Dined on October 10, 2013

We loved this place, really homemade delicious fresh food and friendly service!

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1.0Dined on September 11, 2013

I was hoping to have something to compete/compare to Versaille fortunately they're still open and I can go back. The best part was the appetizer menu....I purchased the pork it was extremely dry and tasteless. It was accompanied by white rice...which lacked salt and any form of flavor. I'd love to be able to say i'd go back but I can't waste money on poor quality food. Perhaps they should dine at some of the other cuban spots to get an idea of what it SHOULD taste like.

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5.0Dined on August 11, 2013

I have searched far and wide for a Cuban restaurant with great food and Cuban ambience. My journey has ended. The place is charming with such a welcoming atmosphere. The mango tea was refreshing, not too sweet and had that wonderful mango aroma. The tostones (fried green plantain) were as good as mine! The main dishes were delicious and generous. Will I be back? As the fellow clearing the tables told me as I left, "es su casa." I was home.

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4.0Dined on June 2, 2013

We tried this Cuban restaurant in Van Nuys in anticipation of our upcoming trip to Cuba. Fresh and tasty food cooked by Cubans fit the bill. Everything was delicious. The service was gracious and friendly.

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4.0Dined on May 10, 2013

Very good and authentic Cuban food...

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1.0Dined on April 13, 2013

Very poor service, food took very long . The waiter forgot about my wife's drink after we asked 3 times he bought it . Very high price for the food and service. .. Will not come back.

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4.0Dined on March 31, 2013

The short version: Very tasty food, immaculate place, friendly but slow service.

The long version: The neighborhood is eh but once you get inside the place is an extremely clean & charming. Brick walls, retro Cuban posters, modern furniture. The TVs playing sports on the wall didn't fit IMHO
The food was prepared well & flavorful. We had the stewed chicken, the fish in tomato sauce & the fried vegetarian plate. We were all happy but agreed it wasn't outstanding. I think that is because of the type of food it is. I mean how excited can you get over rice & beans right?
Our waiter was nice but forgot to bring our Mojito and messed up an item we ordered. Maybe it was an off day.

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5.0Dined on February 6, 2013

hole in the wall but what a swell server! she explained the unfamiliar beverages and delivered an amazing appetizer assortment, all just delicious. also loved the yerba mate soft drink. and the leftovers were nicely packaged as well.

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4.0Dined on January 23, 2013

Good quality and lovely service. A nice place for dinner.

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4.0Dined on December 30, 2012

A great, casual neighborhood spot that's a step above a hole in the wall. Awesome mojitos. We came with friends to try something new and we were glad we did. Shrimp in garlic was so good, everyone had to dip some bread to soak up the sauce. Service was friendly with just the right amount of attention.

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5.0Dined on September 6, 2012

Food and service are outstanding for in house and taking out dining.

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4.0Dined on August 18, 2012

Great foot - Great service - Since we attended, others have recommended.

This will be a repeat ! ! !

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5.0Dined on June 23, 2012

Great Cuban food, our favorite ever since La Cubana in Glendale closed.

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3.0Dined on May 5, 2012

The food at El Criollo certainly has potential. Not all of it was necessarily "hot" when it arrived, but the flavor was there. This place is in a fairly run down neighborhood, but it has parking and the interiors are comfortable and pleasant. The service was not necessarily very encouraging, interactive or helpful, which is something of a downer for a local, small place. Overall, I think I would give this place another chance, but if there is no sign of improvement, it's probably going to end up closing... which is sad since, as I said, I actually do think they have potential.

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2.0Dined on May 4, 2012

They give you a decent amount of food, although it's not really the best I've tasted. Kind of dry and you could tell the onions on my steak had been sitting out for a while. The waiter was attentive, but he seemed a little overly amused at my husband not being able to say the Spanish words on the menu. He even corrected him at one point in a way I found to be borderline rude. I'm Hispanic, so I can say it all, but I don't appreciate my husband receiving almost patronizing treatment for not being able to do the same.

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5.0Dined on April 24, 2012

Was taking a client to lunch and there were VERY few options near his office in Van Nuys. Mostly fast food. Found El Criollo on Opentable when doing my search, and could not have been happier with the choice. It does not look like much from the outside, but the interior is great - open brick walls, nice vibe. The food was excellent. Extremely tender chicken with flavorful sauces. Definitely a gem.

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4.0Dined on March 23, 2012

Our first visit to this Cuban restaurant, and the food was very good. I had a grilled chicken dish with fried onions and my wife a pounded beefsteak---both fine. The appetizers of empanadas and the Cuban tamale were good starters. The portions are ample and the service was very good. We plan to return.

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4.0Dined on March 2, 2012

Went to meet an old pal for lunch and decided upon this authentic Cuban restaurant in Van Nuys. The food was great. There were three of us. We covered all the food bases. One person had the Pollo Asada (chicken). It was a mild dish but fresh and well cooked. Another person had "Old Clothes" Ropa Vieja (beef). That too was mild. I had the Cammarones al Ajo (shrimp). We ordered up the hot sauce to spice things up a bit. That did the trick. They have a decent beer list. I must say that there were what seemed to be many people of Cuban decent at the tables for lunch which I think is a good sign. I'd go back. It was friendly and they have parking in the rear of the building.

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4.0Dined on January 28, 2012

Really good food. This was our second time here, and we were not disappointed.

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4.0Dined on January 21, 2012

great find on blackboard eats. food very good great flavor
prepared just right. price was low for quality and quantity.
staff made you feel welcome and service very good.
will be back again to try other dishes.

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5.0Dined on January 13, 2012

I've come here a couple times now, thanks to Blackboard Eats. Once for lunch, once for dinner. I've had their chicken each time. The El Criollo Chicken is phenomenal! And the portions are very generous. It comes with a side of rice, beans, and plantains. I took half home with me because it's such a big portion and so delicious I want to savor this food again. You can't beat the price. They even have lunch special prices which are even more cheap! Local working people come for lunch and there is plenty of room for larger groups. It can also be very intimate for couples on a romantic date. I love this place and will have to come back without 30% off. What a rarity to find such a great place in such a not so great neighborhood.

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4.0Dined on January 12, 2012

Great Cuban Food..I am defintly recommending this place to everyone I know..I wish I had found out about it sooner

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2.0Dined on January 12, 2012

Mediocre, at best. Not much care in service or preparation. Good black beans - the rest, not so much

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