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
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?
edited thread title