Fancy Mexican I Am Actually Ok With at El Rey

While I typically devour my tacos at Mexican run establishment and steer clear of the fancy “haute Mexican” genre, the $10 dollar  ”comida corrida” at Starr’s El Rey is affordable enough to accept it’s tight pant staffed table service. Plus if I can do fancy banh mi at Chifa, I can handle an extra garnish on my taco. The express lunch comes with chips and salsa, an appetizer, and an entree.

The addictive chips with a little bowl of mild green salsa that was refilled upon request.

For my appetizer I picked the tortilla soup; it was probably the promise of chicharon on top that induced that decision. The soup came with ripe pieces of avocado, strips of crispy tortilla, and cubes of queso blanco. The chicharon did not have the porky flavor that it should have delivered and the broth was a little murky. I would go with the mushroom soup next time.

My entree made me happier. The short rib enchiladas are normally about $10 on the regular lunch menu; it would be silly not to get the express lunch. I was served two enchiladas covered in a delicious sauce. While they were not the giant rolled up newspaper sized enchiladas you might get in South Philly, they were at least completely stuffed with short rib meat. Picked onions on anything are basically my equivalent of a cherry on top, so I appreciated their addition.  Other enchiladas offered are black bean or chicken, but why on earth would you chose either over short ribs?

Stepping away from the express menu, the steak chilaquilles are served with boldly rare steak slices and crispy tortillas. It was a tortilla loaded lunch. Though too lacking in sauce to be traditional, the dish was still enjoyed.

I don’t think you would be served chips if you just ordered from the regular lunch menu, and without them you could end up less than full. So if you can help it, stick with the express lunch.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Getting a full meal for $10 at  a Starr joint is pretty good
  • Red meat is handled right here

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • The murky tomato broth needs work

El Rey, 2013 Chestnut St (@ 20th St), 215-563-3330

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