I've driven by El Rey Mexican Restaurant on 39th Street dozens of times, wondering what their food was like. So when a friend suggested we meet there for lunch I saw it as an opportunity to branch out from my usual routine. Plus it was Cinco de Mayo.
The place is unassuming from the outside. Once inside, we found the dining room to be large with colorful hand-painted murals on all walls. Furniture is basic chrome dinette type, perfect for this casual and family-friendly venue.
The menu is breakfast and lunch only, with a reasonable amount of variety. I decided to go for the El Rey Special, which includes a taco, enchilada, and tostada, along with guacamole. All lunches come with rice and beans as well, along with chips and salsa. I enjoyed my watery ice tea along with tortilla chips and fresh and spicy salsa while waiting. The small enchilada was ground beef and just the right amount of cheese, with a tasty sauce. My tostada was piled high with lettuce and tomato over the beef layer, and the crispy taco was similar to the tostada, just folded up. The fresh guacamole had chunks of avocado and was well-flavored. Refried beans were runny but good, and rice was flavorful but a bit oversalted for my taste.
My friend assured me she wasn't very hungry, but nevertheless ordered the Beef Fajita Plate. She enjoyed the nice chunks of well-seasoned beef with glazed onions and peppers. Despite her alleged small appetite, she made a large dent in the generous serving.
We both judged our lunch to be good old basic Tex-Mex, in a pleasant atmosphere. The menu features a wide range of traditional choices, all inexpensive. Dessert option was snow cones, which we passed up this trip. Next time you drive down 39th Street at breakfast or lunch time, consider stopping in at El Rey.