El Rey del Taco holds a pretty solid local reputation. Their food certainly stands up to the stuff found at the Red Hook Ball Fields, which is famous for its delicious tacos. You’ll find it on 30th Avenue in a part of Astoria where it becomes difficult to pin down a dominant culture.
The truck pulls up and opens sometime between 6 and 7 pm, but the truck doesn’t usually get busy until the sun goes down. They’re at the right place at the right time: their main customers are usually the late night commuters coming home off the nearby N or Q or those just coming from the many places in the area to get a drink.
Against all earthly temptation to get at least half the items on this menu, for the sake of this report, I only ordered tacos.
First, you choose your meat. No matter what you order, you choose what meats you want to fill it with. For an extra buck, you can choose more than one meat. I ordered 1x chorizo, 1x carnitas, 2x bistec and 1x lengua.
By the way, this is THE only food truck I’ve ever encountered thus far that accepts credit cards, and it’s been said that they actually do deliveries, too. Is the future of street food to move closer to the way brick and mortar restaurants operate?
This guy, who runs the truck, looks deadly serious, but he’s cool. Say yes to the chopped white onion and cilantro, the slices of radish and lime for the side.
Then comes the sauces: there’s a reddish sauce, a green and sour cream. I only went with red and green. The red sauce is where all your heat will come from. Despite the creamy orange color, it has a simple hot pepper flavor and a slight saltiness. The green, in a way, reminds me of the verde they give you at Mama’s Empanadas, except this one is thicker and doesn’t have the same tanginess. The creaminess here absolutely must come from avocado. There’s also cilantro. No spiciness. A nice balance of cool for the red sauce.
The chorizo is one of the truck’s more popular meats. It’s got the same spicy, oiliness as pepperoni, except it’s not at all salty; it has a very sausage-like consistency and a dimension of sweetness from what tastes like cinnamon. The double layers of hot corn tortilla accentuate these flavors. Don’t bother with lime on this one. The citrus will cut the oils and ruin the flavor.
Carnitas is essentially fried pork that has been braised or roasted. It retains its juiciness in the way BBQ meat on a stick does. It has neutral white meat flavor, and if there was a way to get me to eat sour cream, it would definitely be on this taco. That and just green sauce would be perfection.
The bistec is interesting. It has this real old school, pan fried, kitchen made flavor about it. The cut tastes like either shell steak or skirt steak. Both cuts are incredibly flavorful, meaty and savory, loud. Throw everything you can on top of this one, including some radish slices.
Save the very best for last: lengua, cow tongue. Don’t be afraid. The truck has enough customers nightly that they can afford a healthy rotation of fresh ingredients. Right out of the gate, I noticed how tender the lengua is. Very similar to the consistency of the slabs of braised pork belly found in Taiwanese night market gua bao. This meat has a flavor reminiscent of a Jewish deli-style corned beef. For this taco, get all the natural, non-bright, non-loud flavors of onion, radish, cilantro, no sauces.
If you want to catch the truck yourself, you can take the N/Q to 30th Ave or Astoria Blvd. The truck should be located around 33-01 30th Ave. For more information, you can also call the truck’s owners at (347) 754-2966.