Sunday, July 1, 2012

R&R Taqueria

7894 Washington Blvd
Elkridge, MD  21075
410.799.0001
www.rrtaqueria.com
R&R Taqueria on Urbanspoon

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!


R&R is really nothing more than a taco stand carve out of the gas station complete with a plexiglass wall separating the two businesses.  The entrance area is tiny and while there are about six chairs that face out towards the windows where you can eat, I'd recommend eating outside if you're in any way claustrophobic.  There is constant churn at this place from the people who are eating to those waiting for their order to those waiting in line to order.  The place was packed throughout my stay there which made for really really tight quarters.  I'm still not sure how they constantly thinned out the line but it was an impressive display of efficiency.

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!).

All of R&R's tacos come on a corn tortilla with diced onions, cilantro and a slightly spicy salsa verde.  I'm pretty sure the tortillas are made from scratch or they put magic dust in them since the corn flavor is so rich and deep in them.  Maybe it's grilling them on the flat top for a bit but they are so distinct in flavor and something I haven't encountered before.  Cilantro is turning out to be one of my favorite herbs with its slight zing and the salsa verde was so sublime that you could pile it on liberally without changing the flavor profile of the taco.

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.

To top off my meal, I finished with their version of barbacoa which R&R describes as Mexican pulled pork except this was a lamb shoulder. The meat is tender and juicy with a bit of a smoky flavor (well, duh?).  This was the highlight of the day for me (only by nose, though...still love pork belly) only because I thought the flavor in this taco had a bit more depth than the rest.  The strips of lamb seemed to blend in a little better with the filling.  Maybe because this was pulled meat versus being chunks of meat like the pork tacos.  I didn't get a chance to dwell on it that long since my mouth worked much faster than my brain and the taco was gone before any more further investigation.

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.
 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for blogging! I have no problem with crowded places, not even gasoline stations because I like the smell of gas. Anyway, I'm actually looking for kosher foods along the way, but I think I suddenly craved for Mexican food because of your post. I read it again and made up my mind: I'll definitely try R&R!

    ReplyDelete

Please feel free to comment! I would love to hear what anyone thinks of any of the content on this blog. But, please always be respectful of others who comment here also. Hope you're enjoying.