The Orion

Mexican cuisine: Cheap and real

Steven Black

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It rarely happens in Northern California, when traditional dishes at a Mexican food restaurant taste authentic.

Recently, I was pleasantly surprised by a simple dish at the El Rey Mexican Grill: the refried beans. For most of my life I have lived in Southern California, I am among the first people to denounce fake Mexican food. El Rey was able to turn a simple dish into my Northern California favorite.

It wasn’t the immaculate presentation or the low price, but the general hospitality of the restaurant that captivated me. A small area with booths available only five feet away from the counter, the entire place was reminded me of a cozy home.

Despite the small area, the hostess greeted me warmly and the food was made quickly. The kitchen was quiet though the staff worked diligently and kept pushing food out in large volumes.

The drooping pile of beans I have come to know at similar Mexican restaurants left me underwhelmed and expecting much less than what I received from El Rey. They were simple refried beans, but firm and thankfully lacked the soupy consistency of other bean dishes I have eaten.

With a side of warm tortillas and under $5 price tag was more than enough to win El Rey a five star rating. With one dish, the restaurant made it clear that the traditional Mexican restaurants of Southern California aren’t the only place to enjoy authentic cuisine.

Steven Black can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Mexican cuisine: Cheap and real