Monthly Archives: February 2009

REVIEW – Rey de los Tamales (Mazda pickup truck)

Reys silver Mazda pickup truck parked facing the truck docs of M. Flores productos

Rey's silver Mazda pickup truck parked facing the truck docs of M. Flores productos

Rey de los Tamales (Mazda pickup truck)

600 S 558 W (see the Taco Map)

(facing the truck dock of M. Flores productos)

Hours : Saturdays from 7am to 10am (sometimes the truck is there other days and hours, but expect the truck there at this time)

4.5 out of 5 stars

For over two years now my friend Ruben has told me about a couple who sell the best tamales and champurrado in town.  Finally everything worked out so that yesterday Ruben and I were able to finally go together to have a delicious early morning meal down by the truck docks.

Ruben has family and friends who work for M. Flores produce so this is where he learned about our friend “Rey” who serves delicious tamales from his pickup in front of the truck docks.  If you’ve ever wondered where great restaurants such as Red Iguana get their products like fruits and vegetables, they come through M. Flores.  Many products are imported directly from Mexico and are then made available via delivery or direct pick-up.  We will talk more about M. Flores and the delicious things I found another day.

Ruben and I meet up at 9am and we drive along 600 W since it is the easiest way to navigate under the spaghetti mess of on-ramps and off-ramps of Salt Lake City to reach our destination of delicious truck tamales.  As we arrive we see the activity of many trucks getting loaded and nearby a small silver Mazda.  But no one is near the truck.  Ruben calls out “Oye!  Tamales!” but no one responds to his cry.  We look near the tailgate and we see the buckets containing bags of steaming tamales.  For a moment, I thought Ruben was going to help himself.  Then he walked around to the front and punched the steering wheel to let out two looooong honks.  Finally, Rey came out of a door and we were in business.

Ruben enjoying a hot pepper along with his tamales.

Ruben enjoying a hot pepper along with his tamales.

Rey is an incredibly nice guy from the state of Guerrero in Mexico.  He has a wide smile and has some impressive bling in the form of a cross hanging from his neck.  He told me that he and his wife (she might be there when you go) have been selling Tamales in Salt Lake for over 10 years now.  While there are many places to buy tamales in Salt Lake, Rey tells me that they has lifelong customers because they tell him that he and his wife’s tamales are made with corazon.

Rey tells me that today he has cheese, chicken and pork tamales and asks me what I would like.  Immediately I tell him that I want to try all 3.  Immediately Ruben stops eating.  He points at me and it’s clear I’m about to get a lesson.

  1. Never order more than one tamal at once since you first need to try them to see if they are good. If they are not rico, you do not pay.
  2. Tamales are best eaten steamed, so let them stay steamed in their bag as long as possible.  Order them one at a time.

I start with the cheese and it is divine.  I’m usually not a fan of cheese tamales, but it was hot and melted and a delicious morning treat.  Rey also served me up a warm cup of champurrado which was the best I’ve ever tasted.  On some days he and his wife serve champurrado (chocolate flavored) but on other days you get normal atole which is not sweet.  On those days he brings along a delicious candy which we will talk more about another day.

After devouring the cheese, Rey reaches into the back of the truck and gets my chicken and pork tamales (one at a time of course).  As we eat, several people come and go.  Half of them are regular customers arriving in minivans to pick up their daily batch of tamales for lunch or dinner.  Others clearly have heard of the reputation and show up in search of the truck.  One man from Guadalajara arrives and tells me that these tamales are certainly different.  He had heard the legends of these tamales and agrees that they are certainly made with corazon.  I ask Rey if his is his real name and he says yes.  So myself clever I ask him if I can call him Rey de los Tamales (King of Tamales).  He smiles and says “You will not be the first person to call me that.”

30am meal.

Drinking up the last bit of my champurrado. What a delicious 9:30am meal. Behind the trucks are loading to deliver delicious fruits, vegetables and abarrotes to markets and restaurants such as Red Iguana.

So go meet Rey and his wife and try these out.  If you need a batch of tamales, the prices are incredible.  So if you need his phone umber, send me an email.

Also, the only guaranteed hours are Saturdays at the location listed above are from 7am to 10am.  At other times Rey could be anywhere around the city filling its tamal needs.  Later that day as Ruben and I were driving around the city we saw Rey in his truck.  He honked and waved as we passed him on 900 W.  I have no idea of the other locations where he vends his tamales, but I know at least one stop along his Santa-like route.

In closing, my friend Ruben is having a very difficult time finding work in Salt Lake.  If anyone has any leads or any help for this at all please let me know. He’s a hard worker and one of my favorite people.  Thanks!

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REVIEW – El Habanero (the stubborn side of the table)

El Habanero

3500 S 8146 W

2 stars out of 5

As i’ve had time to let this “settle”, my opinion on the place just kind of hit the shitter. Not that it was glowing to begin with, but the more i thought about it, the more “meh” i felt. So take me with a grain of salt here, and understand i have a sense of humor that may not “jive” with yours too. So if you are for some reason offended by my dislike/mocking ways, you might want to skip reading this post in particular :). So tell me if you don’t agree. I’m cool.

one of the amish things?

one of the amish things?

So it’s a grey day outside. Its dark and smoggy. Oppressive and cold. Unwelcoming and uninspiring. Kelly picked me up from work as we were very excited to head out to try this stuff called Cochinita Pibil, which is basically a marinated pork dish. I’m stoked about it. I think i’m about to have my mind blown. My expectations are pretty high! So, as i was saying, Kelly picked me up and we headed out to this place, west of salt lake, i’m sure it has some fucked up name and is a cool place to live, but i guess it’s not appealing to the young and timid type who just wanna rock out and have a good time, like me. Well let me be the first to tell you and assure you that in this area apparently, they have education out here. And vinyl fence strip Manufacturers. And a few cul-de-sacs with nice houses but no trees Lots of places that look like meth houses too. Kinda creepy if you ask me! I smell inbreeding. There was even a horse or two. Apparently people subject themselves to living out in this fringe area of an already fringe shit-hole.

She Daisy?

She Daisy?

So after we passed many archaic things, such as a dilapidated strip mall and a scary gas station, we reached El Habanero. The parking lot is small. The exterior looks decent enough. We go inside and immediately see one of those Amish heater contraptions. I have a feeling i’m in for something cool.

Creepy Girls

Creepy Girls

The inside greets us with a “wall of fame”. There’s some creepy shit up here, let me tell you. Besides that, there’s a large L-shaped bar with the drink fountain and waitresses busy as bee’s. We are kindly greeted and seated. I notice the place looks pretty clean and maybe even recently remodeled. I also notice a lot of white people. Not that this is a bad thing, but it’s not necessarily a good thing when you see Bo-Diggity Dog Josephestein with his broseph, Todd the copy machine expert chilling during their lunch hour away and hitting up this place rather than TGI Friday’s (because there isn’t one even nearby!) . So i’m not impressed with the clientel necessarily. Nothing against you guys who were there. I just like want to appreciate what my Mexican and South American friends enjoy.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and Salsa

So the tortilla chips and salsa. Whoa. Warm. Crispy. I bit into one and broke some old man’s ear drum the sound reverberated so loudly. Damn tasty. Refills on the chips were 95 cents. About 10-15 chips a bowl. Not to be a stingy guy, but come on. Talk about gouging.

Next came the menu. Standard white-people fare. I think there may have been a hamburger on there. Anyway. The thing to try was the Pork marinated in Hate Sauce.

Ze Menu

Ze Menu

The plate arrives and i’m a bit worried. A giant slosh that looks like sloppy-joes appears before me with a side of red onions, beans and rice and a piddly little side-salad. I fear for my intestines. And for my soul and what sins I’m about to commit against humanity.

Death Taco

Death Taco

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can appreciate a sloppy joe. But tell me that’s what i’m getting! There are ISSUES with this meal… I don’t care who you are, but the pork was far too acidic to be palatable for me. There were some what appeared to be pickled, but i’m not sure, red onions. I thought they would help balance this out and let me TASTE the taco. Didn’t help. So I resorted to piling the beans and rice in too. Let me just explain how painful it was… I was sweating. I was giving Kelly looks of “I don’t know if I’m gonna make it” type of looks. I didn’t think it was right for this to happen. Maybe it was an off day..? It really could have been good. I don’t know what else to say. I ate a lot of my plate, but i left a lot left over. The best part of the meal was the horchata, but it was obviously a straight pre-mixed type dealy-o. If we had been stuck in the wilderness and there was no source of fire or warmth i would resort to rubbing this on my body to stay warm. Might smell good. It may also burn off your skin. I actually challenge one of you to eat an entire plate of what i ate without flinching in pain at some point from the acidity.

Did i get my point across about that? I know i will be told this is how it is prepared, a result of the pork’s preparation. But i can’t forgive making it available to eat in that form. Maybe if there was more of a balance to the acid from the marinating, but you could not even taste the onions through it. I don’t think you’d be able to taste anything through it to be honest.

So this is why i trash on you and take out my anger on you. I’ve had a bad week, and i think you can do better. That’s the bottom line. This dish could kick ass, but it needs someone tasting this slosh before it is touted as the best thing on the menu! Seriously. Not to bash. I have nothing but love for the taco.

My shitty iphone photography

My shitty iphone photography

I must also say, i really do need to give this place a second, maybe a third and fourth chance. I really would like to try the carne asada based dishes, and steer from this pork mess. I must also state that i have an allergy to pork. So yeah, might want to disregard me and take a chance for yourself? I would like to try this dish at the Red Iguana… I have not tried it and hear it’s amazing. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Say no more?

I spent the rest of the day wanting to die. To have the sun explode and rain fire on me. Put me out of my misery… Still i search for you. Actually, i have some very good things to say about a taco joint, but i NEED to go there again and take pictures and record things a bit better. And take my girlfriend with me too. And we even have some REAL street taco stand reviews coming. I apologize they are slow coming in. The weather has kinda been crappy lately and that keeps most of us from getting out… Until next time. Goodbye, cruel world.

Rico’s new location

Rico’s cafe has moved.  The location on 800 S is closed, but in November they opened up their new location which serves breakfast and lunch.  They still sell many great products and the new location is beautiful.  I was in there today to get tamales for Día de la Candelaria (I hit the muneco with my knife on Jan 6) and the  is bright and colorful both inside and out.

Here is the new address :

700 S 545 W

Also, expect a lunch review soon.