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Burritos fit for two kings

El Rey will satisfy your hunger in a big way.
Steve Pope
Street Smart Fatboy
This just in. Bigol, lotta and hotta are the words that come to mind when I describe my latest venture in Des Moines-area dining. El Rey, a Mexican restaurant at 1714 Grand Ave. in West Des Moines, serves up some great chow and some huge burritos!

A family of burritos is featured on the menu: the Regular ($3.25), the Vegetarian ($3.75), the Super ($4.50), the El Rey ($6.75) and the Rey Rey ($12). That is one awesome lineup. The Regular is huge, the El Rey is a monster and the Rey Rey, well, it falls into a category all its own. We cut it up and fed most of the Sunday-night newsroom shift here with the Rey Rey. I am sure there is someone out there who could eat an entire Rey Rey, but whoever that person is, would not fit in the front seat of my new Suzuki wagon!

In less that 24 hours, I tried El Rey three times. The first visit was a late-night stop. I mostly observed and ate a bowl of chips and salsa just for kicks. The salsa was chunky and fresh with plenty of cilantro. El Rey also had two thinner sauces: mild and hot.

My second outing came Sunday morning. After falling asleep Saturday night with visions of El Rey burritos dancing in my head, I awakened Sunday with visions of Country Style Eggs/Huevos Rancheros dancing on my plate. Soon it was right in front of me -a hot, spicy and wonderful-looking plate full of goodies. Rice, beans and hot sauce with eggs for breakfast in the middle of July? A sure-fire way to start any day!

Toss in four or five tortillas and the side order called Jalapenos that came with carrots and red peppers in a soup bowl, and the sleep was suddenly gone from my eyes. The Jalapenos added an extra kick -and a belch or two. Wow! Someone who made a Huevos as good as mine! All this goodness for just three bucks and a quarter? Amazing!

Ready for Round 3

Next round, I was ready for the heavy stuff. I wanted to try one of everything on the menu. I didn't, but I did get a wonderful cross-section of goodies. First up, I snarfed the Swiss Style Cheese Enchiladas. They weren't the best enchiladas I've ever eaten but were still plenty good and came with rice, beans and a salad. The vegetarian burrito was plenty good, too, but it was dwarfed by the El Rey sausage-style burrito. El Rey means "The King" in Spanish, I am told, and this thing was king. But then came the Rey Rey, beef style for us. Holding this thing up for a photo reminded me of the pictures I've seen of people holding an anaconda (not that I ever have). All of the burritos came with lettuce, tomato, onion, bean, cheese and sour cream and can be ordered with chicken, pork, sausage or beef.

Next up were tostadas: one beef, one chicken and one sausage. These have been my favorite items. Just the right amount of goodies on each one, all with lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. I also sampled the Mexican Sandwich/Tortas, which was Mexican bread served with lettuce, tomato, onion, sour cream, beans and meat of your choice. We had pork. It seemed like a pretty solid sandwich and was big enough to feed two kids easily for $3.25.

Super Tacos, at $1.75 each, were a bit of a letdown. They came flour-style, with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Only thing was, these tacos hadn't seen a deep fryer. Not bad, but I would have preferred mine fried. Guacamole with chips ($3.50) and a couple of nachos with salsa ($1.10) and round three was in the books. Did I mention that round three fed nearly two dozen people?

Round three was all ordered take-out, and most meals were in good shape. We had a little trouble with translation on the phone and didn't get the Nachos Supreme or the four bottles of orange pop. As it turned out we didn't need the nachos. But the orange pop would have been a good way to wash it all down. You don't see those small bottles of pop that often these days.

All in all, this was a great discovery -thanks to Mary Ramzy for e-mailing me about this place. And if you check the Details box, you'll see it's open plenty of hours for anyone looking for some real good, real big, real fun Mexican food.

Attention cyclists!

I will be sitting out RAGBRAI this year, but for those of you lucky enough to be hitting the trail this Sunday, don't miss the chance to stop at Steb's on the Hill in Cedar Falls for ice-cold refreshments. Dave and Sherm, the owners of this quaint little pub, will most certainly be doing their best to keep the fluids -which you need plenty of on RAGBRAI -flowing. Proper replenishment of fluids is another important part of the EAT RIGHT campaign I mentioned in my last column. May the god of tailwinds be with you all.

E-mail the Fatboy at, or send snail mail to 715 Locust St., Des Moines, IA 50309.


What: El Rey Burritos

Where: 1714 Grand Ave., West Des Moines

Hours: 10 a.m.-midnight Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-4 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays

Phone: 221-3577

I always encourage feedback, complaints and bellyaching.Weather you agree or disagree, I want to hear about it. And most importantly, if you have someplace you think I should visit please get in touch with me. You can reach me 24/7 at (515) 770-1869 (cell phone), e-mail at Leave feedback or your own rant on my web