The New El Rey Del Sabor is Serving Authentic Mexican Food From a Cart
Oh, what a glorious day! A new cart has arrived, and is serving the most authentic Mexican food I have seen in Midtown. Pampano Taqueria… be afraid. Be very afraid. This place does not serve small, over priced tacos, on a single, fancy pants tortilla. Their tacos cost $2 (the way it should be) and come on *two* corn tortillas, warmed up properly on the griddle. The two sombrero carts- you should be afraid as well. I don’t even think this cart knows what nacho cheese is. Every item on their menu comes topped with queso blanco- the real deal Mexican cheese. Tamale lady in front of the Mexican Embassy- you don’t have to worry about anything. Your tamales are cheap, authentic, and delicious. Nobody will ever replace you.
But everyone else! Commence your shivering. The Mexican food savior we have all been waiting for has finally arrived.
Midtown Lunch has been all about the outskirts this week, and while I normally like to keep things within the boundaries, when it comes to authentic Mexican food, all bets are off. Located on the SW corner of 60th Street and 3rd Avenue, El Rey del Sabor (the king of delicious!) has been serving up Mexican food to the employees of Bloomingdales for the past month. Tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas, tamales, sopes, and even huaraches. For meats, you get your choice of beef (steak, not ground), chicken, chorizo, or spicy pork. Of course, a good menu is just the first step. What about the food? I decided to tread lightly, and just order a spicy pork taco.
Two small corn tortillas went onto the griddle for a minute before being filled with pork, and topped with onions, cilantro, radishes (nice!), and salsa verde. No lettuce or tomato. No cheese. And certainly no crispy, hard shell. A taco, the way it was meant to be served. Oh man. Let the floodgates open.
For my second course, I decided to check out the huarache. Some of you may be familiar with huaraches from the Red Hook ballfields, which are served folded- almost like a gigantic taco. The Mexican version, in contrast, is served open face- almost like a pizza. When I ordered I was told “Actually, we make our huaraches fresh, so it may take 5-7 minutes.” Are you kidding? It just kept on getting better.
The lady half of the duo working the cart, took out the dough and started pressing it into a flat circle.
When she was done, it was slapped onto the griddle, and 5-7 minutes later we were in business.
First it was topped with a bean slurry of sorts (not as thick as refried beans, but not as thin as the soup that the beans are cooked in), then came the meat (I opted for chicken) which was cooked on the griddle in salsa verde (you can get red sauce if you prefer.) On top of that, the guy piled lettuce, tomato, onions, queso blanco, and a squirt of sour cream. All for 5 bucks. This can’t be true.
I was too full to order anything else, but I did watch him make a quesadilla (which was recommended by the lunch’er who told me about the cart.)
Not too shabby. The sopes are pretty much like tacos with a thicker tortilla, the burrito tortillas they use are enormous (always a good thing), and the bread they use for the tortas looked pretty damn tasty.
It wasn’t all fun and games though. The pork was tasty, but a little chewy- and it wasn’t the greatest huarache or taco I’ve ever had in my life. It was, however, easily the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in Midtown… and the fact that it comes from a cart makes it that much better. The guy in the cart told me that at night he works as a cook at Los Dados, but don’t hold it against him. There are no coriander encrusted tuna tostadas on this menu. And everything is super cheap.
I will definitely be heading back to try the empanadas, the tamales, and a burrito. How could I not? My only fear, of course, is that once word gets out about this cart, it will be so popular that it will be too tough for them to do hand made huaraches, and the quality will go down. So I guess we should enjoy it while we can!
THE + (what somebody who likes this place would say)
- The most authentic Mexican food in Midtown
- And it’s from a cart!
- The huaraches and empandas are both made from scartch in the cart
- There’s no hard shell tacos or nacho cheese (the other two Midtown “taco” carts are disgraceful)
- The use real Mexican cheese!
- It’s super cheap! ($2 tacos, and I don’t think anything is over $6.00)
THE – (what somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- The pork was not super tender (I didn’t try the beef, but I’m assuming it’s the same)
- If you want to get super technical about “authentic,” they don’t have any of the offal you get at real taco shops (tongue, head, etc)
- The open faced huarache is not really a grab and eat kind of meal. It’s super messy, and they don’t give you a knife, so it’s probably best to take this one back to your desk
- Not as good as the ballfields, Tehuitzingo (on 10th Ave. and 48th St.), or some of the best Mexican places in the outer boroughs
- Once word gets out, it may be tough for the cart to keep up with making alotof the homemade from scratch items (with no line, the huarache took a little over 5 minutes to make)
El Sabor del Rey, SW Corner of 60th St. and 3rd Avenue