500 Tacos: Restaurant El Rey

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Restaurant El Rey
3306 Oak Springs Drive (map), 512-524-4179. Hours: 6am-9pm daily
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 08.01.15
When I blitzed El Rey as part of The Food of Airport Boulevard in 2011, they still had cabrito, cooked as moist as unsmoked brisket. It’s not on the menu anymore, and nothing quite takes its place. On the plus side, El Rey is cool and bright inside, with friendly table service, free chips and sauce and all the telenovela action you can handle.
The taco: Carne guisada
With thick, tender, roasted pieces of beef in a thick translucent gravy, this was the best taco of the day, and a Tuesday special at $5.99 a plate with rice and beans. A sharp dress of lettuce and tomato offered cool contrast to the lush beef, but I made a mistake ordering it on a handmade corn tortilla rather than the traditional, sturdier but storebought flour, because the gravy had destroyed the tortilla by the time it hit the table. ($2.25)
 Pastor and barbacoa: The dry adobo on thick, well-cooked pork al pastor says yes to salt and paprika and no to everything else. But the barbacoa says a big, fat, gamey “no” to everything. ($2.25 each)
 Breakfast: El Rey serves breakfast all day, from migas to chilaquiles to pork chops and eggs. A breakfast taco a la Mexicana is a dry, workingman’s scramble of eggs, onions, tomato and jalapeño. ($1.50 before 11 a.m.; $1.75 after)
 Tortillas: Thin, fragile handmade corn and storebought flour tortillas warmed on the grill.
 Salsa: The standard red table sauce had gone sour, but the silky jalapeño verde is a warm and tangy palliative to mediocre tacos.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)