Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

No "Lobster Stuffed with Tacos" Here

August 19, 2009
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Thanks to Eat Buford Highway for the picture. Check out a great review of the same place here (among other great stuff about Buford Hwy food).
Continuing the Buford Highway oddysey, my buddy Brad headed down to El Rey del Taco, a taqueria of some local acclaim.
I, however, had already eaten lunch when I got the call…”Joe, c’mon down for some tacos!”
“Dude, I already ate. Trying to save some bucks to buy that new ‘Hall & Oates‘ t-shirt.”
“Nah, don’t worry. I’ll buy some tacos for you. Just c’mon down!”
So, I went. El Rey has a really great deal on $1 mini tacos, giving one the opportunity to try all the assortments: some “normal”, some- well- a little more intense. This is what I arrived to find (okay, I didn’t find it with bites taken out, but I was slow with the camera):

Brad wanted to put me to the test: Starting with the half-eaten one, and going clockwise, I had on my plate tacos de Cabeza (beef cheek), Buche (pork stomach), and Tripa (on the menu, quite unappetizingly translated as “chitlins bowels”…”small intestine” would’ve sounded a lot better). However, with respect to the food culture and my dedication to “try anything once“, I dug in…
Beef Cheek: Delicious. Moist, shredded beef, similar to pot roast or barbacoa. Really, there’s nothing hard-core about cheek-meat at all. It’s just a muscle like anything else on an animal. If you haven’t tried beef or pork cheek, do yourself a favor and knock it out.
Pork Stomach: The flavor wasn’t bad…really just like fatty roast pork, however, it did have an “irony” taste to it. No, not an “ironic” taste, but that of iron. The fact that I’m filling my stomach with another creature’s stomach, now that’s ironic. Texturally, it was a little chewy, and a texture can really make it “weird”. Not bad, just not what I’m culturally used to.
Chitlins Bowels: Fried chicken skin. This pretty much tasted exactly like salty, fried chicken skin. In that regard, it was pretty good. There was a slight iron taste with this as well, but it was much subtler than the stomach. The thing about it was that you could see that it was just a bunch of fried up rings. Yeah, it looked exactly like a cut-up intestine. Flavor was fine, but it looked too much like what it was. As the great Chris Rock once said, “when you’re eating ass, you know it’s ass.”
Yeah, it was a little ballsy of me, but keep in mind that most cultures eat this stuff all the time. That’s important to remember before we turn our noses at it. “Weird” meats aside, the corn tortillas were freshly made, the cilantro and onions were cool and crisp, and the accompanying sauces were delicious: one, a cool-but-spicy, avocado-based salsa verde, and a very spicy red sauce, redolent of chiles, oregano, and spices.
Overall, it was a great experience. I hope to head back soon and try some more. Yeah, they’ve also got chicken, beef, and pork tacos, but I appreciate that El Rey is offering some authentic options, not just those that most of us consider “normal”. All I know is I’m glad I tried it, and I’m looking forward to passing Taco Bell again in search of real food. Buford Highway, you’ve done it again!
Until then, Cheers, Sláinte, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!
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Eating Buford Highway

August 3, 2009
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I’m pretty fortunate to live in a big city (well, near one. The “suburban” moniker ain’t just frontin’, son).

When in the vicinity of a major metropolis, there’s usually a lot of great food options. Yeah, fine dining’s great, and it’s really cool that Atlanta’s starting to make some noise as a major food city (3 of the contestants for the upcoming “Top Chef” are from here). But way overshadowed by all this pomp and $40 beef cheeks is the incredible assortment of ethnic foods one can find if just a bit adventurous.

Atlanta has huge populations of Mexicans, Southeast Asians (especially Vietnamese and Cambodian), Koreans, and Chinese. In my opinion, nowhere is this mix more prevalent than on Buford Highway, running on a northeast-southwest axis in the northeast quadrant of the metro area. Fortunately, the heart of the “ethnic strip” is not far from my office, and I’m currently making it a point to each cheap (and eat well)- avoiding the plethora of fast-food chains and seeking out the good stuff in the strip malls and cook shacks of this unassuming stretch of U.S. 23.

Unfortunately, I haven’t documented my first two trips, but I will tell you where I went. First stop was El Taco Veloz, serving up tender barbacoa and tacos de lengua (yeah, that’s beef tongue, and you REALLY need to give it a try)…for next to nothing.

My second stop was a very modest place called Food & Dim Sum Heaven (I couldn’t find a website…this place really was a hole-in-the-wall), serving up Chinese tea-house-style dumplings of all assortments, fried treats, and lots of nether-bits of pork cooked up in copious amounts of garlic, scallions, and ginger. Despite a sizable language barrier, our server Lisa was very friendly and eager to serve us their best. I can’t say that same amount of pride is projected when I go to the nearby Panda Express. And best of all, my buddy Brad and I left the place stuffed for $17 total (including his beer…don’t worry, it was after 9 AM).

There’s a lot more Buford Hwy. to go…Vietnamese, Korean BBQ, more taquerias, and perhaps food from countries non-existent to the average “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader” contestant. I hope something I write inspires you to go out and try something adventurous. Remember: if it looks sketchy, it’s probably good. And if anyone has a great experience (or a bad one), tell me all about it! Or, if you have a place I should try (whether you’ve eaten there or not), let me know, and I’ll try to break it down for you.

In the meantime, I’ll just dream of tacos…


A common site when driving down Buford Highway: Taquerias. Taquerias aplenty.