There are few things in the world that can bring people together like food. Whether it’s with a neighbor across the street, someone you just met, or a friend you haven’t seen in a while, sharing a meal creates an experience that draws us closer together. And often, these encounters happen when we least expect it. And that’s exactly what happened when my coworker and I went to El Rey Del Taco on Buford Highway in Doraville.
When we set out for our next meal for Off the Eatin’ Path, we had a completely different spot in mind. Buford Highway is filled with so many international restaurants, you can find a dish to fix almost any craving. When we found out our original destination was closed, we decided to ride up and down Buford until we drove by El Rey Del Taco. I’ve always loved Mexican food, but unfortunately, the majority of Mexican restaurants in America seem to all have the same interchangeable menus. This is not the case at El Rey Del Taco.
If you are looking for traditional, authentic Mexican food in Atlanta, this is the place you want to be eating. Gone are the combination platters and the run-of-the-mill nachos. In its place are handmade corn tortillas and cuts of meat you will be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
While El Rey Del Taco surpasses other Mexican restaurants with excellent food quality and a varied menu, this post is more than just about the food itself.
After we found out that the place we were planning on eating at was closed, we found ourselves parking at El Rey. When we walked in, someone immediately started calling out my coworker’s name. As it turns out, it was a friend he last saw in the back of a pickup truck in Nicaragua 5 years before. He invited us over to join him and then we began to look at the menu.
As I gazed at the menu, I was pleased to see fresh and eclectic takes on traditional Mexican fare. I’ve always considered myself an adventurous eater. As far as food goes, there isn’t much that turns me away. Living in Georgia, some things that are not considered weird or adventurous by most can be a journey into unfamiliar, or even outlandish, food territory to others. When I looked at the menu, I was excited by my options. Of all the Mexican restaurants I’ve been to, I haven’t seen the selection that was offered at El Rey Del Taco.
After reading through every option, I decided that I was going to go for things I wouldn’t be able to get in too many other places in DeKalb (or Atlanta for that matter). My order consisted of three tacos: cow cheek, pork stomach, and cow tongue. I did not know what to expect. I never had any of the three, but I knew that my gamble was going to pay off.
All of it was out-of-this-world delicious. I definitely enjoyed some more than others, but I would definitely order them all again. The cow cheek was the standout taco. The texture, the flavor, all of it was perfect. I was most intrigued by the cow tongue. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try. It’s very subtle, but very distinct. It’s a flavor that sticks with you. It hangs around long after you’ve finished, but is absolutely delicious. The pork stomach taco was also a hit. All three tacos were served with cilantro and fresh chopped onions, and a side of grilled onions to stack on your taco.
The food at El Rey Del Taco is absolutely something to come back for (and I will be back), but the highlight of the entire event was the community. From the company we shared during our meal, to the incredible chefs that take pride in their craft, it was all about community. And that’s what I think is most important about food in general. It should be shared and experienced with others. Two people who last met in the back of a pickup in another country were able to catch up and reminisce over a delicious, authentic meal. I was able to join in conversations and meet people that I would not have got to know if it wasn’t for the food that brought us together.