El Caribeno in Springfield, MA

El Caribeno
858 State St.
Springfield, MA

This is a Puerto Rican hole in the wall across the street from the clinic I’ve been working at in Springfield, MA. I wonder whose great idea it was to call these hidden gems “hole in the wall.” How unappealing does that sound? A hole in anything doesn’t sound yummy to me. However, hidden gem is alluring, forbidden. This is an awesome option for those who are economical and in a rush (aka me!)


I usually get a lunch special w an empanada all for under $5! The empanada is like a Latin American dumpling. What? Did I just go there? Yes! The empanada is a cooked pastry dough, filled with a meat (seasoned chicken or meat) or veggie. The empanada is solid! I tried the fried balls (filled with mashed potato and ground beef) which just felt like a lead ball in my stomach. The empanada is savory and light enough that you won’t regret it. And oh so delicious.

lunch special

The lunch special is a smaller styrofoam square carton (the regular size is a circular tin container that is roughly 2/3 bigger than the lunch special size). But given how much rice there is in this, it is enough for 1.5 meals. You have the option of cut up pieces of pork (I wouldn’t recommend it cuz the pork pieces are not large) or one chicken drum stick (highly recommended!). The chicken is juicy and very flavorful. The lunch special alone is $3.50ish. Very reasonable!

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