Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No "Lobster Stuffed with Tacos" Here

Thanks to Eat Buford Highway for the picture. Check out a great review of the same place here (among other great stuff about Buford Hwy food).

Continuing the Buford Highway oddysey, my buddy Brad headed down to El Rey del Taco, a taqueria of some local acclaim.

I, however, had already eaten lunch when I got the call..."Joe, c'mon down for some tacos!"

"Dude, I already ate. Trying to save some bucks to buy that new 'Hall & Oates' t-shirt."

"Nah, don't worry. I'll buy some tacos for you. Just c'mon down!"

So, I went. El Rey has a really great deal on $1 mini tacos, giving one the opportunity to try all the assortments: some "normal", some- well- a little more intense. This is what I arrived to find (okay, I didn't find it with bites taken out, but I was slow with the camera):

Brad wanted to put me to the test: Starting with the half-eaten one, and going clockwise, I had on my plate tacos de Cabeza (beef cheek), Buche (pork stomach), and Tripa (on the menu, quite unappetizingly translated as "chitlins bowels"..."small intestine" would've sounded a lot better). However, with respect to the food culture and my dedication to "try anything once", I dug in...

Beef Cheek: Delicious. Moist, shredded beef, similar to pot roast or barbacoa. Really, there's nothing hard-core about cheek-meat at all. It's just a muscle like anything else on an animal. If you haven't tried beef or pork cheek, do yourself a favor and knock it out.

Pork Stomach: The flavor wasn't bad...really just like fatty roast pork, however, it did have an "irony" taste to it. No, not an "ironic" taste, but that of iron. The fact that I'm filling my stomach with another creature's stomach, now that's ironic. Texturally, it was a little chewy, and a texture can really make it "weird". Not bad, just not what I'm culturally used to.

Chitlins Bowels: Fried chicken skin. This pretty much tasted exactly like salty, fried chicken skin. In that regard, it was pretty good. There was a slight iron taste with this as well, but it was much subtler than the stomach. The thing about it was that you could see that it was just a bunch of fried up rings. Yeah, it looked exactly like a cut-up intestine. Flavor was fine, but it looked too much like what it was. As the great Chris Rock once said, "when you're eating ass, you know it's ass."

Yeah, it was a little ballsy of me, but keep in mind that most cultures eat this stuff all the time. That's important to remember before we turn our noses at it. "Weird" meats aside, the corn tortillas were freshly made, the cilantro and onions were cool and crisp, and the accompanying sauces were delicious: one, a cool-but-spicy, avocado-based salsa verde, and a very spicy red sauce, redolent of chiles, oregano, and spices.

Overall, it was a great experience. I hope to head back soon and try some more. Yeah, they've also got chicken, beef, and pork tacos, but I appreciate that El Rey is offering some authentic options, not just those that most of us consider "normal". All I know is I'm glad I tried it, and I'm looking forward to passing Taco Bell again in search of real food. Buford Highway, you've done it again!

Until then, Cheers, Sláinte, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!
blog comments powered by Disqus