El Rey del Tacos report (Montreal)

This. This started off as a joke.

My friend and I were waiting for a spot at Le Petit Alep (the restaurant in front which was crowded and had no reservations, see Le Petit Alep report (Montreal, long) for the adventure ) and we told ourselves that if we didn’t get a table in the next 30 minutes we’d switch for the colourful but trashy looking (from the outside) El Rey del Tacos. C’mon! Its the king of tacos! Who can resist the king of tacos?

We actually got in Le Petit Alep so we never had to visit the king after all. Our interest was piqued though and when I found out it actually had decent yelp review (see http://www.yelp.ca/biz/el-rey-del-taco-montréal-3 ) we became really serious about trying it.

Some friends of mine are part of a chamber orchestra that had a little concerto near de Castelneau metro so I thought to myself: how about some tacos to go with the Schubert?

My first observation was that it was a lot more spacious and a lot less trashy than I thought at first sight. From the outside I could not quite figure out it if was a mexican market with some tables and a kitchen or a restaurant selling some mexican specialities. It is the later. There are more than enough table, everything is clean and the space was filled with a mix of youths, middle aged guys and gals with perhaps a few individuals of mexican or south american origins mixed in (I can’t pretend to have a mexican radar and I had a podcast on so I could not hear people talk. Some people looked mexican but they could be norvegian for all I know!) The service was fast and courteous.

Right away they give you tortilla chips with three sauces to dip in (one mild tomatillos green sauce, one mildly spiced taquera sauce and one spiced “911 sauce”). The tomatillos sauce was fine but I stuck to the taquera sauce since it had a nice balance of heat and taste for me. The “911 sauce” wasn’t that bad but the heat was a little too long for my taste (I’m not a heat fiend and too much heat can become unpleasant for me). I’d like to note that the 911 sauce is not of the “american nuclear” sauce variety. It actually has a taste even if its packing a bit of heat and doesn’t aim at blowing your head off. Its not really “911” though. I’ve tasted hotter sauce in indian and szechuan restaurants and I’m sure mexico has hotter than that.

They had house made Jamaica, Horcheta and Tamarind aqua fresca. Apparently its either 2$ for a glass or 3$ for a pitcher of aqua fresca so I took the pitcher even if I was alone. I love Tamarind juice sooo much! To me its somewhere between a grape juice and a lemonade. It has the width of grape with a hint of acidity from the lemon, plenty of sweetness and a flavor all its own. If you are new to mexican restaurants and unsure about heat level Horchata is the true mexican weapon against heat. Its a sweet drink made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley or chufas and apparently stops heat in its track. I have a friend who likes to try spicy mexican stuff but has horchata on hand just in case and another who loves creamy beverages and is insanely in love with horchata itself. I tend to prefer Tamarind. I’m curious about that “Jamaica” juice and I might try this next visit.

I tried the burrito del rey as my main. The burrito del rey is a pretty large burrito covered with a tomato based sauce, a bit of sour cream and what looked like queso blanco (white mexican cheese). It comes with rice and a black bean purée.

The burrito was one of the best I’ve eaten. Everything meshed together to provide a very very good bite. The flour tortilla was moist, the meat (I don’t remember what it was… maybe pork?) was perfectly seasoned , moist and incredibly delicious, the sauce, sour cream and queso weren’t too assertive and provided a good backdrop to the whole. The meat was the real star of the dish though. It shine through the burrito like a beam of light. I wasn’t a big fan of the salad in the burrito as hot salad can be a bit weird but overall it was ok as well.

The rice was fantastic. A golden brown rice that was moist and flavourful, typical mexican rice with a hint of tomato paste and maybe a bit of cooked onion mixed in. Not dry, not starchy, not bland like some can be, just a perfectly cooked, juicy and flavourful rice that can stand on its own.

I’m not a fan of black bean so I kept the back bean stuff for the end. I’m afraid that my purée became a dried out black bean gunk resembling faintly of spakle at the end of the meal, fairly unappetising for someone like me who’s not a fan. It was very good on its own though and I ate about half. It was very well seasoned and had a good mix of flavor that helped hide that earthy beany taste I dislike in black bean.

I finished everything with a churro (how can you not?). I didn’t eat it right away because I was full but I can happily report that it was delicious! It was even stuffed with what might have been dulce de leche!

Everything together, with tax, cost a bit more than 18$. I would revisit again because I have barely scratched the surface.