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Omnivore - Two consume world's largest dish at El Rey del Taco

A favorite of many in town

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For years, whenever I asked a chef into Mexican food the name of his favorite taqueria in town, the most frequent reply was El Rey del Taco (5288 Buford Hwy., 770 986-0032.) That's been replaced for many by Taqueria la Oaxaqueña. But who wants to drive to Jonesboro every time a taco-craving hits?

I've visited El Rey three or four times, but honestly haven't shared most people's overall enthusiasm. Still, when my Friday-night dining friends were in the mood for Mexican last week, I suggested we head there. It turned out to be a good choice for them. They liked it.

The big show-dish on our table was the parrillada meant for two ($29.95). Parrilladas feature grilled meats, and, as you can see, the dish would be adequate for three or four average diners. Among the contents were chicken, chewy beef, fat shrimp wrapped in bacon, and queso fundido with chorizo topped with four grilled jalapeños. Also: tomatoes, avocado, and radishes.

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The jalapeños caused quite a stir. My friend Frank, infamous for eating any- and everything on the table, blew a fuse after simply licking one of the jalapeños. I love fiery-hot, but they were beyond my own capacity to savor, too. There was also an avocado-based green sauce that put Frank under the table.

At one point, someone at the table asked the server if she could eat the jalapeños. She seemed confused at first and then said, "Of course — with lime, very good."

I ordered an individual parrillada with carnitas, bacon, and half an inch of cheese. I couldn't eat more than half of it, but the leftovers made a good late-night snack. Truth be known, though, I'm putting parrilladas off my menu. No matter where I've tried them, I always find them overwhelmingly greasy.

Frank and Ryan managed to eat all of the gigantic parrillada except for a single, lonely radish. "It's a challenge," Ryan said. "You just make up your mind and say to yourself, 'There's not that much left. Go ahead.'"

A dish I've liked here in the past is the mojarra, fried and grilled. The worst I've eaten is the chile relleno, a falling-apart mess drenched with too much salsa. I scored a fantastic pumpkin-flower quesadilla a few years ago and I'd say my favorite taco there has been the suadero. Specials are often offered weekends.





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