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El Rey Tacos Fail to Fully Vanquish My Hangover Blues

The veggie taco in the foreground is less-than-portable.
The veggie taco in the foreground is less-than-portable.
Photos by Christina Uticone

It is not a coincidence that I'm usually hungover when seeking out food for a Fast Times review. Not only are my defenses down, allowing me to eat fast food (mostly) guilt-free, but only during a hangover do the food groups "greasy" and "salty" have such a positive impact on my general feeling of well-being.

While running errands I found myself feeling pretty poorly, that morning's breakfast and coffee wearing off and leaving my hangover nipping at my heels. I was on Washington when I glanced over and saw the bright yellow crown of the El Rey Taqueria beckoning to me. Since I was heading home, I ordered several tacos to share with my similarly under-the-weather husband. (It was his attempt at replicating Anvil's Pliny's Tonic cocktail that had gotten us to such a low state.)

I ordered three tacos: carnitas with cilantro and onions, a Cuban (with chicken), and a veggie taco. I find that a veggie option is always smart to have on hand, if one's stomach has a tendency to rebel during a hangover.

El Rey Tacos Fail to Fully Vanquish My Hangover Blues

While some part of each of these tacos was a success, overall I was left a bit underwhelmed. This is especially disappointing considering the three tacos were less than $8 altogether. By the time I got home both Josh and I were ravenous so I snapped a few quick photos and we dug right in.

First up I went for the Carnita with cilantro and onion, mostly because I was pretty sure the amount of raw onion would prove too overpowering, and I wanted to get it over with. There were an awful lot of onions, but I liked the simplicity of those, paired with the fresh cilantro; a surprise, since I'm not a huge cilantro fan. Unfortunately the pork was really dry -- so dry that a big dose of sour cream and salsa were required to finish my half. Still, I have to admit that I may be starting to like cilantro more. I owe it all to you, Texas.

Next I dug into the Cuban taco with fajita chicken. Again, the meat was overly dry, and even the black beans and plantains weren't enough to offset the dryness of the meat. That said, the plantains were delicious, and their sweetness against the spicy salsa I added was a lot of fun. This taco comes with sour cream mixed in, which I don't love -- I would rather add it myself -- but that wasn't the deal-breaker as much as the super dry chicken. This was my favorite of the three, because while the chicken was too dry it was also very flavorful. And seriously -- those plantains.

Finally, the veggie taco was just sort of a mess. All the zucchini and corn simply ooze water, and then steam the tortilla into oblivion. This is best eaten immediately, rather than transported home for consumption. I found it an underwhelming mess of sweetness, in which I could really only taste the corn.

Since the menu is so enormous -- and so cheap -- I think it bears going back to sample more food, so feel free to leave me your favorite suggestions. I'm especially intrigued by the breakfast menu, where I think my luck will really turn around.



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