Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cochinita Pibil Tacos at R&R Taqueira

Three tacos from R&R Taqueria
Sometimes, a little knowledge can be highly dangerous.  Consider my ability to speak Spanish and recognize Mexican food.

On my last visit to R&R Taqueria in Elkridge, I overly impressed myself by recognizing the tacos called "cochinita pibil."  That's pork, I remembered.  And it involves cooking the meat in citrus juice, maybe orange juice.  You can't see that from the Spanish, but I remembered it ... from my experience ... because I'm awesome.

And I congratulated myself so heartily that I didn't focus on the word "habanero" written in the description.  That word has the same meaning in English and Spanish.  It means "really hot pepper that you had better respect."

Imagine the hottest dish you have ever eaten and enjoyed.  Because R&R isn't serving stupid hot dishes.  The meat is butchered perfectly.  Their sauces are fresh and bright.  When they use habaneros, they use just enough to hit you hard without overwhelming the pork.

The hit was just an awesome surprise.  I'd eaten the other tacos first -- chicken and al pastor, if I remember right.  They're each very well done.  I was reading at the counter as I picked up the third and bit down on what I expected to be citrus-infused and turned out to be enflamed.

R&R pulled off the habanero perfectly.  My tongue squeaked, and my eyes opened.  I drank down my melon agua fresca and then sucked the ice.  But the peppery zip was just part of the cochinita pibil flavor.  I think there were onions.  I know there was slow-roasted pork.  They were all wrapped in R&R's excellent corn tortilla.

At R&R, the tacos are really unique.  They're not just throwing your choice of meat on top of the same shredded lettuce and salsa like a chain.  Each salsa tastes different.  Each meat comes with a different marinade.  The habenero made cochinita pibil stand out, but it welcomed me to eat every last bite.   The R&R chefs know how to play with fire.


Robin said...

Funny, that's almost exactly how my first R&R visit went a few weeks ago. Saw the cochinita pibil, and remembered really liking it when I had some in Colorado several years back. I even remembered what kind of hot sauce I had put on it, which of course reinforced my belief that this wouldn't be spicy. Ordered one along with a chorizo and an al pastor, and was so excited for the cochinita pibil that I took a bite of it right away. Delicious, but it's safe to say I'll have to go back and order the others again to taste them with a fresh palate!

kevlar51 said...

My wife made the exact same mistake. Well, my Mexican friend did for her. We were going down the list of tacos and he said "oh, cochinita's great!" so she ordered it without reading further. Whoops.
She still liked the flavor, but way too hot for her.

Dan said...

Ordered 2 today per your recommendation.. oh it burns!!! but it's a good pain. Glad I ordered a carne asada taco to balance out the heat.

One thing to note about R&R: the skeevy shopping center next door has actually hired a guy to patrol their parking lot, warning people who park there that they're going to start towing if they see people parking there then walking to the gas station.

Wish Rodrigo would move, there are plenty of options around there where he could have room to grow and his customers wouldn't have to wait for their food packed in there like sardines...

kevlar51 said...

Have to agree with Dan. (Thanks for the parking heads-up) I feel like the gas station doesn't want him there either based on all the angry signs about blocking the pumps. But I think I read/heard that Rodrigo was looking into a rooftop seating area--which doesn't really solve most of the problems.

I've taken to visiting taco carts on rt 1 instead of R&R for my taco needs--the wait time and crowds are far more manageable. But R&R still gets a good amount of business from me for breakfast on weekends. Though I'm finding more and more options elsewhere as of late, and there are only two days in the weekend :(

Jim said...

I am shocked the "skeevy shopping" center even cares about people parking there other then making money from the tows. Every time I have been to R&R the shopping center parking lot is never more then even a 1/4 full. Most times there are never more then like 20 cars in the entire center.