I love Labor Day. Love. Love. Love. But what’s a hungry gal to do when all her favorite restaurants are closed?! Head on over to El Rey Taqueria at the corner of Shepherd and Washington, which was both open and packed. I’d heard so many great things about El Rey that I couldn’t wait to dive in, and I ordered a whole plethora of piñatas for my own little Labor Day fiesta. Que buena!
The taco al pastor was decent. The beautifully cooked rotisserie chicken is implanted in a sturdy flour tortilla and topped with the usual fixin’s. The hot sauce is teeming with red flakes, though, and is not for the faint of heart. Keep away from children and yanks. My torta, sadly, was soggy and lackluster. I judge all tortas by the gold standard set forth by Taqueria del Sol, and unfortunately this one falls short. Sogginess aside, the “meat” of the sandwich was clumped in the middle = too-much-bread-not-enough-stuffing.
On the brighter side, the Mexican rice had plenty of flavor to go around (plus small chucks of rotisserie chicken), and the tortilla soup was dynamite. My favorite part of the meal, though, was the fresh cantaloupe juice, which had a lovely flavor and none of the sticky-sweetness that accompanies most fruit juices.
The die-hard patrons of El Rey call it “awesome” and “cheap,” though I found it to be neither. You can get better tacos for less right down the road at Guadalajara. And while it may not fit in my Taco Hall of Fame, I’ll certainly return for the soup.
Taqueria El Rey - 910 Shepherd at Washington