Tuesday, June 23, 2015

El Rey: The Granddaddy of Burritos

Long before burrito crafters such as Bandit Burrito, Fighting Burrito, and the chains Abelardo's, Panchero's and Chipotle began to dominate the local landscape, El Rey Burritos in West Des Moines was known for their legendary big burritos, culminating in the two-foot-long Rey Rey. But El Rey also makes great guacamole, along with enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, fajitas, breakfast dishes and more.

Having a hankering for some good guacamole after sampling the disappointing goo at Abelardo’s [see blog post], I visited El Rey to reacquaint myself with the food after a long absence.

The table salsa served with tortilla chips is thick, tomatoey and mild. In appearance and texture its like eating a thick tomato sauce mixed with pico de gallo. The burly tomato overpowers the cilantro and onion. Guacamole is chunky, yet velvety. Onion comes through with a nice crunch. A delight to eat.

The Burrito Vegetariano is a fiesta of starch, with potato, beans and rice all within a large flour tortilla. The abundant lettuce that all of El Rey’s burritos sport adds a much needed contrast in texture, but doesn't provide much for flavor. The chorizo in my second burrito had a vinegary bite that stood out over the otherwise dominating lettuce and sour cream.

Salsa verde is tangy and vibrant with the refreshing tart taste of tomatillo. What little heat it boasts fades quickly on the palate. Little dabs to every other bite of the chorizo burrito compliments it. The spicy salsa roja is the very essence of red chile. Good heat that builds fast in the throat, and lingers long. My favorite of the three salsas offered and an excellent addition to the otherwise mild veggie burrito.

El Rey’s service on this visit was very friendly and accommodating. I asked for my burritos to be cut in half so that I could save half of each for carryout. The server brought out the halves to go after I had finished my meal, each half wrapped tightly in foil and obviously kept warm. A nice touch.

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