Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tacos El Gordo Las Vegas - Royal Flusher Restaurant Review

Back when Tacos El Gordo had an outlet on the strip (which is sadly gone now), I wanted to try them out. But the first time I went there, the lines were around the corner. A good sign but... I couldn't wait.

Fortunately, I knew about the original location on Charleston east of Las Vegas Blvd. and headed there instead.
Tacose El Gorrrrdo
Indeed, this outlet of Tacose El Gorrrdo was also quite busy. But I was determined this time. I forged my way into the restaurant, elbow to elbow with about 100 other people, mostly latinos, and about 3 other people I figured were tourista numbskulls like myself. Because as I surveyed the throng, stunned by the din of a busy, busy restaurant, tried to make sense of the menu board... I was completely baffled.

There were people everywhere. The place smelled like all kinds of delicious treats were being cooked. There were little signs hanging above the counter. There were staff moving at lightning pace behind it. There were stacks of trays here and there. There were very strange looking bins of food and some stuff that looked like a huge gyro, spinning slowly. How to proceed?

It seemed like you ordered your food at the counter and then took it to the cash at the side to get drinks and pay. I figured I would start at the right and move down the line. It didn't seem to be moving very fast and it took me a while to even get near the edge of the counter where some trays were, which was good, because it gave me more time to keep perusing the menu.

Kindly, the management had placed small English translations below each menu item. This made it clear exactly what each taco was. For example, Taco De Tripa was 'beef'. And Taco De Suadero was instead 'beef'.

I re-read the menu about 50 times and kind of panicked. What to get? I figured 'Tripa' was tripe, so I planned to stay clear of that.

"Easy, Flusher, you can do this," I said to myself. I took a deep breath and just focused on picking two or three things, rehearsing in my head how to say them.

Some new arrivals kind of cut into the line from the side which was annoying, but I didn't say anything, since I was clearly out of my depth in this gastronomic endeavor. And they got served before me. And then some other people did too.

Other parts of the line were moving but mine was not - I still had no tray, even.

After about 10 minutes of this the light went on. It was, indeed, organized chaos. There were multiple lines. Sort of behind each little hanging sign. You wanted food of a certain type, you got in line behind that sign. I sucked it up and moved away from the corner of the counter, and got in line two signs over where they were serving what I wanted. I had to start all over again.

Finally things started moving and I was nearer the front. I witnessed some very odd (to me) food calibration exercises. Hunks of meat being chucked into a huge circular pan, maybe two and a half feet in diameter, with a raised center and watery juice in it. And what looked like dry ice was put in the center, but the water looked hot. I had no clue what was going on.
Then the counter man spent some time carefully arranging freshly delivered cow tongues in a bin and covering them with gingham cloth. There was an artful 'dance of the tortilla' where hundreds of the things were made ready to be turned into tacos, the edges of them dipped in meat juice. It reminded me of a blackjack dealer stripping decks of cards.
I'd noticed that some people, when they got their 'beef' tacos ended up with little plates of delicious looking onions and peppers. I hoped I would be able to figure out how to get some because I had no clue what they might be called in this unfamiliar world of Tacose El Gorrrrdo.

Finally, finally, I made it up to the front and order three kinds of taco, two of each just to be safe. I had a couple of beef ones, and pork one. I chucked a dollar in the tip jar so that the counter man would go lightly on the tripe and brains.

He asked me if I wanted 'everything' on and not knowing what 'everything' was, just agreed. There were some delicious looking chopped this and that and salsas and stuff so I figured what the heck.

Each taco was built with two tortillas. I would learn why later. When it was all on my tray, the veg lady asked me if I wanted some onions and I said yes, so I scored a plate of onions and peppers.

I wormed my way with my feast to the cash, got a can of diet coke, and paid up. I think it came to like $15 or something. And with that, I luckily found a table and dug in.

It was delicious. One thing I would change is to skip the raw onions which were lovingly smothering each taco. I picked a lot of them off. The different meats were tasty, and I liked the spicy one best. I got some great heat going from some of the roasted peppers and laughed to myself as my eyeballs fell onto my tray as I took too big a bite of the especially hot one. Holy crap, it was a mule kick. But I loved it, even though my sinuses were being dissolved.

Realizing I probably had too much food, I started skipping the bottom of the two fresh corn tortillas. Nice try. Eating with just one, it tends to disintegrate and you are left pretty much picking up a mass of chicken, onions, grease and salsa with your fingers and shoving it into your mouth like a castaway.

What a feast! It was totally worth the trials I'd been through to sample these authentic little taco beauties. I would definitely be back in future trips.

I put my eyeballs back in and blew my nose for the 30th time. Man, those peppers... I'd pretty much eaten everything, save a few lonely tortilla pieces. I strolled out of there to find another treat, the visual kind this time. A classic automobile, carefully and lovingly restored.
Classic El Camino!


The three tacos I had were Sesos, Buche, and Suadero.

Apparently, I ate cow brains. I guess I finally have the answer to the musical question "What's the matter?"

I'm happy to introduce the first ever Royal Flusher Restaurant Royal Rating rated restaurant - Tacos El Gordo. The Royal Flusher Restaurant Royal Rating scale runs from:
0-to-a-Royal (also known as RAZGU) - no portion of a Royal Flush at all
1-to-a-Royal - one Royal card
2-to-a-Royal - two Royal cards
3-to-a-Royal - three Royal cards
4-to-a-Royal - four Royal cards
Royal Flush

Tacos El Gordo
1724 E Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, NV

Royal Flusher Restaurant Royal Rating - 2.5-to-a-Royal
I loved Tacos El Gordo. I debated giving Tacos El Gordo the first ever 3-to-a-Royal rating but took half a card off for the fact that it is self-serve, a bit very slow when busy (or when you don't know the system, like me), and because of the rather spartan dining conditions. I would have liked being able to get hotter (temperature-wise) food. I will be back many times, I'm sure. I look forward to trying the steak and the chorizo tacos, and a few other things too!

Post Script

I did get to try out Tacos El Gordo on the strip once, the time I met up with Kenny Blankenship and his wife LuLU in Vegas.

It was a complete disaster, which you can read about here. Cat fight in 110 degree heat anyone?

1 comment:

  1. You would have reinstated that half-star if you had tried El Gordo's best taco, the adobada, the spiced pork at the first station as you enter the restaurant. It's on the vertical spit, and sliced gyro-style by skilled surgeons. Worth a trip just for the adobada.