Sunday, July 1, 2012
Elkridge, MD 21075
Yes, this place really is in a gas station and yes it's been made famous because of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (on the Food Network hosted by Guy Fieri). They've also been been featured in the Washingtonian Magazine, Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and most recently in the NY Times. There's also a second location that just opened in the White Marsh Mall. But, the original is still located in a motherf"ing gas station. The purportedly best taco stand in the DMV is in a gas station! AND the gas, I have to say, is damn cheap. All that being said, I couldn't wait to stop by R&R right before I went to my parents house on Canada Day. I ate tacos all week so I could compare, I was ready!
Now, I've only been to Mexico once in my life and it was for a wedding at an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen so maybe that doesn't even count. My point is that I don't know what an authentic Mexican taco stand is like but I would imagine it's something similar to this place. I actually was feeling a little hesitant when it was my time to order since I wasn't going to order in Spanish like the guy before me and everyone else who was around at the time. When I finally spoke up I stuck with the tacos which were cheap, like the gas, with each taco going for about $2.00 each. I decided to get a barbacoa (pulled pork), carnitas (pork shoulder), buche (pork belly), and pollo (chicken) taco. I also got an original Coke out of the fridge which was also of the Spanish variety (see pic in the slideshow!).
I started with the pollo. It was immediately interesting because R&R cuts the chicken in really small pieces, almost like it was ground but not quite that fine. The chicken was marinated, grilled and had a bit of crunch to it. It was definitely a different type of pollo taco then I've ever had before and if this was authentic Mexican cuisine then sign me up for more.
Next was the carnitas or pork shoulder. The meat had been marinated and braised to perfection. It was tender to the bite and despite having the same fillings, it was distinctly different than the pollo. After i devoured that taco, I took on it's cousin, buche (Pork Belly!), which had me at hello when I saw it on the menu. In contrast to the carnitas, the belly had a crispier texture and not quite as moist. It still maintained a deep, rich flavor which lingered in my memory for the rest of the day.
All the reviews I read about R&R before I went said that R&R emphasized sticking to the traditional way food was prepared and cooked in Mexico. I'm not in any position to judge if it was authentic or not. I can, though, give my opinion about how good the food at R&R really is. Well, it's damn good. It's also unique to any other taco joint I've been to lately. Instead of presenting the usual hot mess look of a taco, these came out beautifully and tasted even better. Yes, it's still in a gas station and yes it's crowded as all out. But, once you get past these things, you'll make this your staple for Mexican food if you live in the DMV.