Thursday, November 12, 2009

R&R Deli -- Tacos At The Shell Station

The takeout taco is the food discovery of my four years in Howard County.

Back in Arlington, I stopped occasionally at a stand that appeared on good weather weekends, but you can count on the joints around here for a front-seat feast of tacos, salsa and a squirt of lime. These are $2 treats that usually spice up a day when I'm out doing errands.

Now, you can count on the tacos at the R&R deli in Elkridge -- a new takeout spot for breakfast and Mexican food at Rte 175. R&R serves great tacos. I tried the barbacoa, the carnitas and the carne asada on Monday, and they're spectacular. Heaped meat, good tortillas, a nice salsa. R&R is near the Shell Station where Rte 175 hits U.S. 1.

Okay, let's admit it: R&R is in the Shell Station where Rte 175 hits U.S. 1. That's why Mrs. HowChow has not yet sampled the tacos there. But it's not like you're ordering food in a gas station. The restaurant's owners have a separate door, and they set up a bright commercial kitchen separated by a glass wall from anything automotive.


The tip about R&R came from a comment last month by Alberto A. Flores. The R&R tacos were stuffed, and they're in the league with the best takeout around, certainly in the league with my favorites at Pupuseria Lorenita's taco truck in Elkridge and Lily's Mexican Market in Columbia. R&R's big standout was the milkshake that I had with my tacos. The guys there whipped up milk and real strawberries in a blender, and it was a refreshing, delicious drink. Not the dessert of a milkshake at The Duchess in Ellicott City. It was more like strawberry milk, but real strawberries that they had pulled from the fridge and hulled right in front of me.

(Update: You should ask for a huarache -- a Mexico City dish with a masa base, cheese, meat and avocado.  You should also try R&R's ceviche special, which offers marinated fish and vegetables on top of a crisp tostada.)

The R&R Deli serves a pretty broad menu from American or Mexican breakfasts to tortas sandwiches to platters of beef, cajun chicken, or blackened salmon. I really liked the guys there, who chatted and gave off the vibe of folks who were really interested in serving good food. Now, I just need to convince Mrs. HowChow.

(Update: Mrs. HowChow approves.)

The R&R Deli joins a great run of food along U.S. 1. Check out my post about "U.S. 1: The Foodie Frontier" that tours you from Ceazar International Market in Elkridge down to R&R Deli's intersection where you're within a block of organic groceries at MOM's Organic Market, the empanadas at the El Patio Market, and more right.

R&R Deli / R&R Taqueria
7894 Washington Boulevard
Elkridge, MD 21075
410-799-0001

NEAR: The deli is in the Shell station at U.S. 1 and Rte 175 in Jessup. It's really convenient from Rte 175 -- just go east from Columbia across I-95 and then look left at U.S. 1.

R&R Deli on Urbanspoon

25 comments:

Alberto A. Flores said...

I'm glad to hear that you liked it. I have to admit that the "Next to the Gas Station" argument is a valid one, however it was very much worth the discovery. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Multiple endorsements = Must try this one!

Kevin said...

I am very jealous of you all. My wife will not consent to going here, and I very seldom get a chance to just "go out".

little audrey said...

Thanks for the review! What was pricing like? Is this a "fill up for $5" sort of place (which this county desperately needs)?

HowChow said...

@Little Audrey -- Definitely a "fill up" place. $2 per taco. So you get a big lunch for $4 or $6 and a milk shake for $3 more.

John in HoCo said...

I stopped by R&R today for some tacos and got the two tacos (one carne asada, one al pastor) and soup for $5 deal. The al pastor was great! The lamb soup was very flavorful and interesting. I spoke with the owner as my order was prepared, and he couldn't have been nicer. He offered me a sample of la lengua (tongue), which I surprisingly liked. I'll definitely be back there soon.

brandon said...

My wife and I tried the carnitas, al pastor, carne asada, and pork belly tacos. All were good but I thought the al pastor were really outstanding. The gentleman behind the register (maybe the owner?) was very friendly and suggested the beef tongue tacos for next time.

The kitchen itself was in the open and I didn't have a second's pause about cleanliness when I watched the food being prepared. I'll be back to try some other dishes. Thanks for bringing this place up, I never would have found it on my own and it's a great find.

Lotsabogeys said...

I stopped by there yesterday and tried the carnitas and al pastor. The guy behind the counter told me the al pastor had some pineapple in it. He said it wouldn't be a real al pastor anywhere else without the pineapple. The al pastor was very good. I enjoyed the carnitas also.

sean said...

My girlfriend and I went to R&R after reading about it on HowChow. We got an assortment of tacos and we each had a milkshake (banana and papaya). The food was excellent especially the tacos enchilados and al pastor. We also had the opportunity to speak with the owners who gave us a free half sandwich to try (also excellent). They were also excited about the number of HowChow readers visiting their restaurant in recent days. Do yourself a favor, overlook the gas station and give R&R a try!

Sarah said...

Super excited about this one. Maybe when I pick up the CSA on Wednesday...

Kevin said...

Magnificent stroke of luck. I got to go to R&R yesterday. I wish I had gone earlier in the day. While the al pastor was good,my barbacoa was really dried out. I want to go for breakfast for some juevos rancheros. Did anyone get a chance to sample their ranchero sauce?

Southern Skies Coffee Roasters said...

I tried it on Tuesday and enjoyed it enough to drag three of my skeptical coworkers in there the following day. We all really enjoyed it, especially the Tacos Al Pastor. I thought that I tasted a hint of pineapple in there and it's just the right amount without being cloying.

I got a little sample of the mole and was impressed at the depth of flavor.

It's obvious that they're not just cranking it out. There's real love for food being expressed here!

Michelle said...

Does anyone know if R&R makes barbacoa de cabeza (head)? Lily's Mexican Mart sells lamb barbacoa (big difference for a Tejana like myself). 'm not a fan of menudo, but my sister is...when she comes down from NY to visit, I'd love to take her there if they sell menudo as well. Anyone know? Either way, I'm making a trip out there. :)

fultie said...

Stopped in for the first time yesterday and picked up several tacos and a cup of lamb soup. Spoke with the owner, a friendly guy who knew that people had been blogging about his place, and he was happy about the positive exposure. I tried the tacos al pastor, and found them flavorful. The soup was a little spicy/salty for my taste, but I enjoyed trying something I've never had before. And he gave me a sample of lengua=beef tongue whoa! I picked up a menu and for the previous poster, I don't know what barbacoa de cabeza is and it isn't listed, but there is "tortas de queso de puerco (cold cut head cheese)", so who knows maybe they can accommodate your request. The menu has their tel# 410-799-0001. good luck!

Anonymous said...

I just tried three tacos from R&R Deli (carne asada, carnitas, and al pastor) and they were absolutely awesome!!! Thanks for the tip.

Michelle From TX said...

Finally stopped by R&R on Friday night. Had the al pastor and carne asada tacos. YUMMY!!! A little disappointed that they weren't making milkshakes and didn't have fresh aguas frescas. Oh well. Maybe when it gets really hot out, they'll have these drinks! :)

Christine said...

Had 2 tacos and a strawberry milkshake today for lunch - very yummy!

TC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TC said...

I've eaten here twice. The first time I was a little disappointed with the beef tacos; they were very dry. I also tried the soup with pig's feet and stomach. It wasn't bad flavor wise but the consistency of the items in it would take some getting use to. The second time I visited the owner was there and recommended the soup with shrimp. It was amazing. I had that along with the pork and chicken tacos. The pork taco was very good and the chicken one seemed a little over cooked like the beef one I'd had previously.

I attempted to eat here again on 2 other occassions but after going in and seeing the girls working the cash register wearing gloves also making food, I was very turned off. The first time I witnessed this I didn't say anything, I just left. When I returned about a week later to order again and notice the same thing only worse, I asked her if she could change her gloves before crumbling the lamb into the soup that I'd ordered (she'd just cashed the previous customer out and handled money from the cash register). Needless to say,she wasn't happy with my suggestion. I asked for if I could speak with the owner; he wasn't there. After the attitude that she gave me, I decided to leave and have not returned. This is really a shame....I loved this place; however, I refuse to have someone prepare my food under unsanitary conditions.

Anonymous said...

Tried this place to day. Got a couple of carnitas tacos and absolutely loved them; properly cooked, juicy, tasty.

MATT said...

Holy deeelicious...

I went for the first time on Saturday, and then my second time the next day on Sunday!!! No one here knows my wife, but she never asks for Mexican food, but after tasting tacos Saturday she suggested we get another fix Sunday...I was pumped! I was originally a Baja Fresh guy, and moved to Chipotle to simplify things for whomever went for lunch in our office, but now I have some thinking to do. I love Chipotle (especially how big the burritos are), but R&R is just home made goodness. My wife liked the tacos on Sat better than the messiness of the Sunday burrito, but I tore apart 2 chicken burritos. They were about 5.25 each and not huge, but they get grilled again after they are wrapped which really authenticates the taste. I asked for mine hot, so I got about a 1/2 sliced jalapeno on each, and they were wonderful. I couldn't really say which specific ingredients there are b/c you don't really watch the entire process, but the taste is phenomonal, the kitchen is open (a plus for my wife), and they were all friendly...I met another How Chow following couple in there Sun for their first visit, and I didn't get their opinions before I left, but we were all pretty excited to be there..I cannot wait for another one...

Edward said...

My wife had been trying to get us to go check this place out after reading about in HowChow few months ago. We finally got a chance today since she had a dentist appt in the area and picked me up from work for lunch.

It is literally a hole in the wall. There are two tiny counters with 2 bar stools each for sitting. Sooooo not really a place to dine-in unless you are by yourself. We walk up to the register and look at the menu. A short stocky Mexican man behind the register greets us and asks for our order. He must have seen the unsure looks on our faces so he begins suggesting some items from the menu.

I ended up ordering two "tacos al pastor" and the wife got two "tacos de carne asada." I also got their soup of the day since they offer two tacos plus soup for only $5. The soup was lamb. Delicious! Broth was savory with tiny onions and cilantro. There was rice and plenty of lamb meat. Soup was served with a lime wedge on the side.

My tacos were incredible. Tacos al Pastor is "pork marinated with a blend of different chili peppers, spices, and herbs." Their tacos are served in a soft corn tortilla. Both of my tacos kinda fell apart as I was eating them. It was like the shells weren't strong enough to hold all the moist meaty goodness. That's probably my only negative of the food. Big pluses: the food is served with a couple of lime wedges and a spicy salsa verde that is delicious!

All of their drinks available are, as far as I could tell, Mexican sodas. I got Champagne Kola and she got Sangria Senorial which she says tastes like sparkling grape juice. You can also walk next door to the gas station and buy a drink there. The deli is connected to the gas station inside via a glass door.

The guy behind the register was named Rodrigo who I believe is the owner//manager since the name on the food safety certificate on the wall was Rodrigo. We told him that we found out about his place from HowChow. He said he hears that alot and would love to thank them for it.

I will definitely be back. Took a menu back to my office and have already shared my experience. :-)

Stewart Bushman said...

Had my first gas station taco experience today. Fantastic! He asked if we'd been there before. We told him no and that we'd heard about it online. He asked, "the Blog?" We said yup, and he seemed pretty happy about it.

Delicious al pastor and carne asada tacos as well as the daily special which was spicy pork. They were unfortunately out of pork belly, but I'm sure I'll be back to try that someday. I want to try their chorizo and egg torta for breakfast sometime soon!

Mac said...

R&R Deli delivered...the tacos were incredibly flavorful...the pepper sauce definitely did its job, and the soup was among the best I have ever had (luckily, soup of the day was the lamb) I will definitely be going back...although probably for carry out rather than eat in...it can be a little disconcerting to watch prostitutes trying to pick up guys while you are eating. I wish the place was in a better area, but then that would take away from the hole in the wall status.

HowChow said...

@Mac -- Who trying to pick up who? Really?