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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Taqueria El Rey Del Taco (Doraville)

Toddler Foodie Rating:  4.5 out of 5 Gummy Bears

:) = Casual, family-friendly atmosphere and tons of little diners.  English-speaking servers who seem totally comfortable with catering to children.  Yummy, real-deal tacos and a variety of other authentic Mexican dishes.  Spacious, clean bathrooms with changing tables.  

:( = The restaurant is in the corner of a small, high-traffic plaza right off Buford Highway, so the parking lot gets crowded.  Parking right in front of the restaurant could be challenging during peak hours.  And hold tightly to your little ones when you're in that parking lot because moving vehicles are going every which way - and the drivers in this area a little batty.  Also, the restaurant has a divey feel to it, which isn't everybody's thing.

Notes:  Your server will immediately put chips and salsa, along with two different taco sauces (red and green) on your table.  Beware:  ALL 3 sauces are spicy!  Ask your server for mild salsa if your littles don't eat spicy food.  Also note that it costs a little extra to get hand-rolled tortillas with your meal - but it's totally worth it.

"Which taco should I eat first?"
We learn a lot about parenting by watching Mommy and Daddy, and one thing we know is that parents have to be flexible.  Mommy makes many plans only to watch them unravel because someone ran a fever, fell asleep, or had a monster tantrum - or simply because stuff just didn't work out.  This is exactly what happened on the eve of our most recent foodie adventure.  Mommy spent an hour trying to find a good spot to visit and came up with the perfect destination... but she forgot to check the restaurant's hours.  We arrived there to find it closed.  Womp womp.  

Mommy remained calm and did what every good foodie would do in this situation:  she consulted with older, more experienced generations of foodies on Zagat.  And then she drove straight to Taqueria El Rey Del Taco

We arrived around 6:15 PM, and the place was already pretty full with a mix of couples, families with kids, and folks in business casual attire enjoying tacos and margaritas after a day at the office.  The Spanish-speaking host led us to a booth, and our server immediately greeted us and brought us some chips, salsa, and squeeze bottles of red and green sauce.  Mommy tested all three sauces to find that they were all delicious - but spicy!  We passed on the sauces, but we loved the chips.  They were warm and tasted homemade.

For dinner we ordered the Mediterraneo Parilladas (grilled pastor meat, shrimp, and octopus cooked with green peppers and onions, topped with cheese and served on a hot iron skillet alongside hand-rolled corn tortillas and a bowl of charro beans) and 5 tacos in hand-rolled corn tortillas:  asado, bistec (grilled beef steak), lengua, pollo (grilled chicken), and goat barbacoa.  We also ordered a small horchata

"I'll eat all the octopus if you eat all the shrimp, bro."
We loved everything we ate.  The Mediterraneo was our favorite dish.  The seafood was seasoned perfectly and cooked to perfection, including the octopus which was firm to the bite, but not rubbery.  The hot oil in the iron skillet crisped up the onions, green peppers, and cheese, giving each bite of the seafood and pastor mixture an added crunchy, flavorful punch.  We enjoyed scooping the meat/seafood mixture onto our corn tortillas and rolling them up into little logs.  But, even after we had eaten all the tortillas, we could not stop nibbling at this dish.  It was addictive.
"This is how we roll!"
The charro beans served with the Mediterraneo were yummy, too - smoky and heaped with chunks of tender meat.  We crumbled a few chips into our bowl to give them a little crunch.  And then... there were tacos.  Steaming, hand-rolled corn tortillas topped with mounds of protein, fresh cilantro, and raw chopped onions (Mommy got the onions on the side, in case we didn't like them).  Mommy showed us how to squeeze a little lime juice on our tacos, sprinkle a few onions on them, roll them up, and gobble them down.  We even got adventurous and started creating new dishes by mixing different proteins together:

"I took some lengua and put it in my charro beans.  I call this dish Lengua Del Charro."
"I created my own taco:  barbacoa, shrimp, and octopus!  I call it El Rey Del Toddler Foodies." 

And then there was the horchata.  Mommy told us it was the best horchata she has ever had in Atlanta.  Some horchata is too sweet and tastes artificial.  But not this horchata. It was not overpoweringly sweet, as if the sugar knew to step aside and let cinnamon take center stage.  Everything about this meal took us to foodie heaven.
"This horchta tastes like Christmas!"
Because we ate so well, Mommy let us order tres leches cake for dessert.  El Rey's version of tres leches is infused with ribbons of chocolate sauce, drizzled with milk, and topped with maraschino cherries. It wasn't our favorite tres leches in town, but that didn't stop us from eating every bite.  

We will definitely be back to Taqueria El Rey Del Taco the next time we're craving Mexican food.  The menu is pretty extensive, and we are eager to explore every part of it.  And maybe - just maybe! - we'll see the recipes we invented on the menu one day.     

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