El Rey del Taco
234 Jean Talon Est , Montreal QC H2R1S7
Although I rarely feel compelled to write restaurant reviews these days, I could not let this experience go by un-celebrated. A great food experience for me boils down to my tummy feeling warm and happy but also, I associate food with good times and people I enjoy being with. I do tend to lean towards the upscale dining scene. I like me a tablecloth and a good cocktail. What can I say? 😉 However some of my best foodie experiences have also taken place in ‘dives’ or rather, places which are “unrefined” but cannot be ignored. i.e Dic Anne’s on Pie-IX. El Rey del Taco is just that, a flip-flops and shorts type of place, located at the famed Jean-Talon Market in Montreal. Its is where you happily eat your meal and move on. It is best enjoyed, I think, on their terrace overlooking the market, where you can people-watch. (and food-watch as the vendors are only steps away. I love eating food, while gazing upon other food)
So since it is located at Jean-Talon Market, fresh meat and produce is right at their door especially during the warmer months. The restaurant is also part Mexican specialty-foods grocery store. They have a bustling, open-concept kitchen so you can watch the magic happen. Food is plated, lookin’ great and steaming hot – take out containers, filled and bustled off.
Food is served quickly but this doesn’t mean you are getting “fast-food”. You get piping hot super-delicious Mexican dishes. I was lucky enough to try several of them and they all blew me away.
The Tamales stuffed with Chicken were great. If you like polenta you will love these. The corn flour used in this dish is a lot finer than polenta, so for me its a lot more appealing. They are basically steamed cornmeal dough parcels which are stuffed with saucy roasted chicken served smothered in two salsas – green and red with sour cream drizzled over-top. They are firm but have a creamy texture. “Do they taste corny??” my sister asked. “No, they do not taste corny at all” I replied. Although, if Tamales aren’t your thing, I highly recommend the Burritos ‘Traditional’ with pork. The burritos are wrapped in flour tortillas and are served with a mild red salsa over-top, with the customary sides of rice and re-fried black beans. The pork is roasted and tender – so tasty. If the dish you are interested in has the pork as an option – take it. The chicken-filled Enchiladas Suizas, made with corn tortillas and smothered in salsa verde were very spicy but also great. The Guacamole is just unbeatable and the biggest pleasant surprise – The Quesadilla con Flor de Calabaza – filled with cheese, onion, peppers and zucchini blossoms was utter ooey-gooey deliciousness. (pictured above) How can I ever go back to a regular Quesadilla from La Cage aux Sports after that? It will be quite unacceptable now, won’t it?
They do not serve Fajitas as far as I could tell. Fajitas, although delicious are not authentically Mexican. They were said to have been “invented” for tourists in Cancun. (not confirmed) I read some negative reviews about the Nacho dish – claiming it is not authentic etc.. People were down-right appalled by it! lol Although, I think we can let that one slide because overall the place is great and I cannot wait to go back 🙂
Hope you try it!