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#1
Posted June 18th 2006, 1:00pm
In the last few weeks, I have been exploring the extensive menu at El Rey del Taco on Clark Street in Rogers Park (which occupies the old Mi Tenampa space). On the whole, it has been sort of hit and miss, but mostly hits (the Barbacoa de Chivo was stellar). I intend to write a more in depth review of the place, but for now I wanted to share a particular dish I had for the first time last night.

In addition to El Rey's extensive offerings of traditional taco fillings, they also offer 3 varieties of "specialty" tacos. All 3 varieties are made with flour tortillas and melted cheese, which I guess technically makes them quesadillas. However, they are not fried like most quesadillas. They are called Pioneros, Gringas and Choriqueso. I have always associated these kinds of things (flour tortillas and cheese) with California border towns, and have shied away from them as being "inauthentic" (the name Tacos Gringas speaks for itself). I am also not a huge fan of melted cheese (except on pizzas). However, at El Rey, it seems these specialties are being marketed to a Mexican audience rather than gringos (despite the name). They are not listed on the english menu, but are posted in Spanish in the window and on table cards. Anyhow, last night, on the recommendation of our waitress, a friend and I sampled the Pioneros, to which I became instantly addicted.

El Rey's Pioneros (Pioneers) consist of a generous portion of lean and tender grilled pork chunks, little bits of very smokey (and salty) bacon (and maybe some ham), sweet carmelized onions that are still slightly crunchy and a judicious topping of queso chihuahua wrapped in a quality flour tortilla and lightly griddled. Although my cholesterol went up about 50 points just looking at the things, they were full of porky goodness and were wonderfully flavorful in a "these are so good they have to be really bad for you" way. I especially enjoyed the sweet strips of grilled onion. They come 3 for 5.99, but I doubt one person could (or should) eat 3 at one sitting (I brought one home which was great cold for breakfast).

El Rey also makes deliveries, which seems to be a huge part of their business.


El Rey Del Taco
7104 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60626
(773) 262-9411

Update: After doing some googling, I am thinking that Tacos Pioneros might be named for a popular chain of restaurants in Morelia. It seems that bacon is a frequent ingredient in dishes from that region. Many of the dishes at El Rey del Taco also contain bacon. I wonder if El Rey's owners are from Michoacan? Anybody have any insight into the origin of this type of dish?

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Last edited by d4v3 on April 3rd 2007, 11:32am, edited 3 times in total.
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#2
Posted June 18th 2006, 4:13pm
The Pioneros sound fascinating (2-3 types of pork...what's not to like?). The grilled onions (not exactly typical on most tacos) seem like they would have added a sweet and crunchy textural note that'd be quite excellent.

You know, I hardly ever include pix in my posts, but I have to say, I would have loved to have seen what these tacos looked like.

Thanks for the tip,

Hammond
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“We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
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#3
Posted July 24th 2006, 6:26pm
David Hammond wrote:You know, I hardly ever include pix in my posts, but I have to say, I would have loved to have seen what these tacos looked like.
Here is a picture of 3 Tacos Pioneros in all their Greasy Porky Glory
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In my OP I wrote:They come 3 for 5.99, but I doubt one person could (or should) eat 3 at one sitting.
Regardless, for the last month I have found myself doing so on a regular basis.
Last edited by d4v3 on September 20th 2011, 5:49pm, edited 2 times in total.
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#4
Posted July 24th 2006, 7:00pm
Good lord do those look good! It would seem, though, they you would have to have them with beer, to deglaze the tongue between bites. Thank you so much for helping me visualize this taco in all its remarkable porkiness.

Is it really "tacos gringas"? (Antonius, shouldn't it "tacos gringos," or is there the suggestion that this is for girls, which seems unlikely?). Could this be a candidate for the Menu Misspellings thread?

Hammond
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“We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
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#5
Posted July 24th 2006, 7:30pm
David Hammond wrote:Is it really "tacos gringas"? (Antonius, shouldn't it "tacos gringos," or is there the suggestion that this is for girls, which seems unlikely?). Could this be a candidate for the Menu Misspellings thread?
I wondered about that also. I did find online references to "tacos gringas". I think because it is specifically referring to Anglo girls, the use of gringas is OK. I guess it is a Baja California specialty (hence the somewhat derogatory name). At any rate, I may have been mistaken. El Rey may just call them "gringas" (not tacos gringas), at least that's what I heard a cook call them. I have not had them, but from what I understand, they are closer to a quesadilla consisting of cheese, onions, pork and pineapple between flour tortillas and grilled. I will have to try some gringas for lunch tomorrow.
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#6
Posted August 14th 2006, 3:03pm
I tried out the pioneras at el rey. They are an unusal and highly filling plate of tacos, but actually similar to something I make at home for the kids. And much loved by them, lots of gooey cheese, bacon, flour tortilas.

They weren't all that much to my liking though- just am not a fan of the storebought standard flour tortilla
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#7
Posted August 14th 2006, 3:18pm
Seems to be the antojito cousin of alambres.
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#8
Posted August 14th 2006, 8:34pm
zim wrote:I tried out the pioneras at el rey. They are an unusal and highly filling plate of tacos, but actually similar to something I make at home for the kids. And much loved by them, lots of gooey cheese, bacon, flour tortilas.

They weren't all that much to my liking though- just am not a fan of the storebought standard flour tortilla
Yeah, I can see that. My SO doesn't care for the Pioneros either. I am also not a big flour tortilla fan, but in the case of pioneros, I think they work. I like the Pioneros for their junk food quality, in the same way I like sliders. Pork, ham bacon, cheese and grilled onions on flour tortillas, doesn't exactly spell haute cuisine (I do like the idea of grilled onions on tacos though).

The first couple of times I ate the Pioneros at El Rey, I swore the tortillas were either homemade or a very good commercial version. The last time I ordered them, I saw them open a package of those tortillas in the clear and red package that are made on 26th st. I can't remember the name. The amount of cheese on the tacos also seems to vary. I like it when they go a little lighter on the cheese.

Anyhow, the carnitas are good at el rey (smokey) and so is the goat barbacoa. The al Pastor is pretty good and the tacos de Lomo pleasantly surprised me also (I expected it to be tough). The horchata is so-so, and the liquados are awful. Stay away from the Costillas de Res. They are cooked over coals, but have the texture of leather. I am also not a big fan of their salsa.

Aside from the kiddy tacos and the goat, I think there are better options in the vicinity than El Rey (e.g. Cuetzala). Plus, the restaurant is way too brightly lit. But they do great business, much better than nearby venues. They must be doing something right.
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#9
Posted August 15th 2006, 9:19am
Do they have a spit for the al pastor at El Rey? They had one for the Clark Street festival last month, but we haven't been to the actual restaurant yet. (Taqueria Mexico is our go-to place -- it's a mere block from home, great horchata and I really like the chicken sopes.)
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#10
Posted February 6th 2007, 10:58am
I've been wanting to try this place for a while, but was a little put off by the french toast and waffles on the first page of the menu (after all, with a name like the Taco King and pancakes on the menu, things could go terribly, terribly wrong)

We ordered delivery for Superbowl Sunday, and despite some difficulty getting our food (the poor freezing delivery guy was sent to another address on our street) had an absolutely terrific meal.

I have to admit, I don't have a lot of experience with Al Pastor, but we had the Al Pastor taco dinner, and I thought it was fantastic; well-seasoned, well-cooked pork and fresh onion and cilantro. Yum!

We also ordered the requisite superbowl guacamole, which was very good - and had chopped chilis on the side, a nice touch making it Sparky-friendly. The flautas with arrachera (Sparky's favorite) were a little different than we've had elsewhere; they were small and fat, wrapped more like an eggroll than a flute, and fried crisp - very good. Finally, the burrito was a very good standard football-size. The only think I didn't particularly enjoy (though I ate them anyway!)were the tamales; they were large and doughy, and the pork inside wasn't particularly flavorful.
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#11
Posted April 3rd 2007, 11:31am
A recent thread about unusual hotdog presentations, along with a recent tour of South Tucson, home of the well dressed bacon wrapped "Sonoran" hotdog, put me in the mood for one of my favorite over-the-top hotdog sandwiches, the Torta Cubana Rey from El Rey del Taco.
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If saturated fat is a measure of royalty, then this truly is the king of tortas. The sandwich is made on a grilled bun, and measures about 6 inches across and 4 inches tall. The fillings include pieces of crunchy breaded steak, ham, smoky crisp bacon, chorizo and a hotdog sliced lengthwise so it curls up into little wiener spirals. All that fried meat salad is piled on top of a fried egg and topped with melted yellow cheese, lettuce and mayo. Pickled jalapenos are served on the side.
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It was absolutely delicious, and almost worth the angioplasty.
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#12
Posted May 11th 2007, 10:00pm
My husband and I went to El Rey de Taco tonight in search of these delicious tacos, and no sign of them on the menu did we see. The sole waitress was involved with a party of twelve other people so we couldn't query her, but I'm wondering if perhaps the menu has changed?

Has anyone eaten had these delicious tacos recently? I note that an earlier poster mentioned seeing waffles on the menu--no sign of those either.

We had perfectly serviceable carne asada and chorizo tacos, but otherwise didn't find the food to be particularly memorable.

Cheers,

Lillafury
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#13
Posted May 11th 2007, 10:19pm
Lilla -

I had the pioneros last week - they, in fact, are not on the menu, but if you ask for them, they'll make them...I think the gringas are the same way. DH and I will generally split up a plate of the pioneros and a plate of the al pastor tacos, so as not to scare our arteries too much. :)

I haven't checked the menu for the waffles, though they are on all of the take out menus I have from them.
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#14
Posted May 11th 2007, 10:33pm
Lillafury wrote:Has anyone eaten had these delicious tacos recently? I note that an earlier poster mentioned seeing waffles on the menu--no sign of those either.
The Tacos Pioneros and the Tacos Gringas were never on the menu. They used to list them on handwritten table cards. If you ask for them, I am pretty sure they will still make them. I ordered some tacos gringas (pork and pineapple) about 2 weeks ago.

Besides those tacos, and the over the top Torta Cubana Rey, the best thing at El Rey is the Goat Barbacoa plate. The Tacos de Lomo are surprisingly good and the Carnitas and Al Pastor are not too bad either. Other than that, I don't like the licuados or the horchata much, or even the hot sauce for that matter, and steer clear of the Costillas de Res al Carbon.

The Carne Asada is much better up the street at Cuetzala(as are the licuados and horchata). For killer grilled Chicken and Carnitas, there is a spartan but excellent little Taqueria in the back of Supermercado Chapala across the street from El Rey.
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