The buzz around Elkridge’s R&R Taqueria can be heard across the Mid Atlantic.
Diners from throughout Maryland and into Virginia and New Jersey rave about its tacos, burritos and tortas.
But does the authentic Mexican food from this tiny eatery, attached to a Shell gas station, live up to the hype?
On a recent Friday, we visited R&R Taqueria for lunch.
Our enthusiasm to try new food changed to stress as soon as we pulled into the parking lot.
Cars zipped in and out of the gas station after fueling, leaving little room for patrons attempting to park. After finally parking in one of the few spots near the restaurant, we got out of the car, only to be greeted by a strong gasoline smell.
Keeping the food in mind and leaving the smell behind, we walked through R&R’s front doors.
Inside, more than a dozen people stood in line, either waiting to place an order or waiting for food.
Two small dining bars, accompanied by eight stools, sit at the front of the restaurant. On the opposite wall, there is a refrigerator stocked with Mexican fruit-flavored sodas and Coca-Cola.
Guests get a full view of the kitchen behind the cash register. About six people, including the cashier, were working.
R&R Taqueria’s menu includes all the traditional Mexican dishes and then some.
Its tacos are wrapped in soft, corn tortillas and garnished with cilantro, onions and an array of sauces. Guests can choose taco meats and seafood ranging from chicken, steak, chorizo and beef tongue to shrimp, tilapia, pork shoulder and al pastor, a pork marinade.
Huaraches are prepared with handmade tortillas, mixed with refried beans and topped with Mexican cheese, taco meat, avocado and sour cream.
Platters range from grilled marinated steak in a spicy pasilla pepper sauce to “Chile Relleno,” a chili pepper stuffed with melted cheese and vegetables and served with a mild tomato sauce.
The restaurant also offers a vegetarian menu, with items like burrito bowls, veggie enchiladas, veggie tacos and veggie burritos.
Initially we planned to eat inside. Yet as we neared the register to place our order, the line continued to grow, so we switched from eat-in to carryout customers, for the sake of some leg and elbow room.
Our first taste of R&R food was the homemade tortilla chips. The chips were tasty, thick, crispy and warm, all at the same time, and they were sturdy enough to dip into the guacamole without breaking, although the guacamole was a bit too creamy for our liking.
Next we tried three fish tacos, assembled in soft tortillas. Sides of lime ledges and pico de gallo-like sauce gave the tacos the flavor boost they needed, making for an overall pleasant dish.
For our main meals, we chose the R&R Tacos Enchiladas, the Chile Relleno platter and a veggie burrito.
The platter was our absolute favorite. A mixture of peas, corns and what looked like green beans filled the pepper, which was surrounded by a red sauce, beans, rice, cheese and pico de gallo. The combination of flavors works well in this dish, and we used the remaining tortilla chips to scoop up the last bits of sauce.
We also enjoyed the veggie burrito. It can be tough to make vegetarian dishes with adequate flavor, but this burrito had flavor bursting from the tortilla edges. Red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, beans, rice, sour cream and avocado filled the burrito. And it was enough food to satisfy even the hungriest vegetarian.
Our least favorite dish was the R&R Enchiladas — two lamb tacos rolled in a corn tortilla, dipped in a Mexican sauce and accompanied by sour cream and cheese. For us it was just too much meat and lacked the flavor variety we enjoyed with the other dishes.
Overall we can understand the hype surrounding some of R&R’s dishes. The food tastes surprisingly flavorful and fresh given its proximity to a gas station. But if you want to enjoy it without worrying about parking, seating or the smell of gasoline invading your lunch, carryout is the way to go.