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View Casa del Rey in Sierra Madre's Menu

Restaurants: Casa del Rey

Where: 31 N. Baldwin Ave.

Phone: (626) 355-6060

Reservations: Not required

Cocktails: Yes

Service: Full table service

Atmosphere: Casual

Outdoor Dining: Yes

Credit Cards: MC, AMEX, Visa, Debit Cards with MC/Visa logo

Kidís Menu: Yes

Senior Discount:

Food to Go: Yes

Catering Menu: Yes, and banquets up to 40 in private room

Hours of Operation: Sun. Ė Thurs. 11am Ė 9pm, Fri. - Sat. 11am Ė 10pm

Price Range: $3.25 - $11.75

Albondigas Soup

Taquitos Combination Plate

Taco and Enchilada Combination

Tamale and Chile Relleno Combination

Machaca and Eggs

 

Casa Del Rey Ė Family Owned Since 1972

 

By Bill Coburn

 

Bill Rey opened the first Casa Del Rey in Temple City back in 1972.  In 1988, a second Casa Del Rey was opened in San Dimas.  In 1993, Billís sons Art and Ed bought him out, and eventually decided to go their separate ways, with Art getting the San Dimas store and Ed getting the Temple City store.  Ed then opened a store in Arcadia in 1996.  Ed and  his wife Donna both had their eye on Sierra Madre, though, and when the Peppertree Grill location on Baldwin Ave. became available they took advantage of the opportunity.

 

Once they opened the Sierra Madre store, they began assessing the overall state of their business, and decided that with trends being what they were, it might be in their best interest to divest themselves of one of the restaurants, and after careful consideration, they decided that Arcadia would be the one they would eliminate.  Now, with the staff from Arcadia having been re-located to their Temple City and Sierra Madre stores, they have concentrated on making their two remaining locations the best they can be, including a recent facelift to the Temple City store.

 

The focus of this spotlight is the Sierra Madre store.  Iíll be writing about Temple City soon, since I havenít written about it since 2004, so itís overdue for another look, especially now that I hear theyíve given it the once over.  But Iíve never spotlighted Sierra Madre, and theyíve been open for a while now, so this week, Iíll tell you about our recent trips.

 

Katie and I have stopped in for lunch 4 times in the last ten days, and each time received very pleasant service.  The same waitress waited on us all four times, and on our second visit, she remembered what we wanted to drink from the previous visit.  Today, our fourth visit, she brought the Tapatio out to the table with my entrťe without being asked.  Small touches, I know, but itís those little things that you donít have to worry about that contribute to making the meal a cut above.

 

Katie ordered the Tostada Salad with chicken the first visit, a Tostada salad with ground beef on the second visit, yesterday, a Tamale and Chile Relleno combination, and today she ordered the Taquitos Combination meal.  I ordered the Carnitas Burrito on our first visit, the Chicken Chimichanga on our second visit, yesterday a Chicken Enchilada and Ground Beef Combo, and today, the Machaca and Huevos meal.  Katie Taquito combo came with soup or salad, and she let me have the soup, and I chose the albondigas.

 

The Tostada Salads both came with plenty of meat, an abundance of crisp fresh lettuce, diced tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream and very finely grated cheeses.  As Katie was eating her tamale yesterday, she pointed out that one thing she liked about Casa del Reyís tamales is that you donít have to worry about eating the chile stem.  As I prepared to write this spotlight, I took a look at the 2004 Temple City spotlight, and saw that she had made the same observation back then.  To quote: ďShe mentioned during the meal that she couldnít find the stem for the chile, and when we talked to Ed later, he told us that they do their chile rellenos a little differently, removing the stem, and stuffing cheese up into the chile where the stem has been removed.  Nice touch.Ē 

 

Today, she offered me some of her taquito combination, and I tried it and was very pleased.  These were obviously made on the premises, not some pre-packaged frozen taquitos you find in many places.  I pointed out that the meat was quite delicious, and mentioned that I had had a friend complain that she had gotten some kind of a pressed beef when she ordered taquitos here.  Katie, whoís far more expert at these things than I, said that she understood why someone might think itís pressed, due to its consistency, but that it was most definitely not, and that for her, the consistency was one of the things she liked, because unlike many taquitos, when you bit through, you bit through.  In other words, you didnít pull all the meat in one bite, leaving yourself a hollow taquito shell.  I understood what she was talking about, and agreed that that was a plus.

 

My carnitas burrito was excellent, even though Iím not really a huge carnitas fan.  My carnitas was plentiful, with great big chunks of moist, well-seasoned meat.  There was one chunk I had to take a fork to, and broke it up into about half a dozen smaller, bite-sized chunks.  Thatís how much meat was in this thing.  My chimichanga was stuffed with chicken, and the tortilla was a crisp, golden exterior, Iíd almost go so far as to say perfectly cooked, that made it one of the better chimichangas Iíve had.  Yesterdayís combo was excellent, as well, with a very flavorful enchilada sauce, again, one of the best Iíve had in a while.  The taco was also quite good, with lots of hot, moist, seasoned ground beef, fresh, crisp lettuce and again, very finely ground cheese.  I did order it without their salsa, as I heated it up with the Tapatio.  One thing I noticed, and I donít know if itís always this way, or if I just got lucky, but the tortilla shell was not overly crisp, so it didnít break into a bunch of pieces, leaving me to get my hands all covered with the sticky juices of the meat, and the rest of the taco innards.  Because it stayed all in one piece, I was able to enjoy it more than I do at places where the shells break apart.

 

The albondigas was quite good.  The meatball took up most of the cup, which also had a nice broth chock full of celery, onions, carrots and potato.  For me, there was a little more celery than I like, but that could have been because a) I really donít like cooked celery, b) the luck of the ladle or c) thatís the way their soup is.  The other day, I had the albondigas, and there wasnít so much celery, so I think it was probably just the luck of the ladle.

 

The Machaca and eggs at todayís visit was really quite good, too.  The seasoned meat is sautťed up with tomatoes, onions and bell peppers and scrambled with two eggs.  For you regular readers who know I hate them, yes, I said tomatoes.  I asked for light tomatoes, because I thought the picture accompanying this article would come out better with some tomato for color, and was pleased that the tomatoes were good sized chunks, which I could easily pick around, not little tiny diced ones.  The only complaint I had with this meal was that there was so much meat that I didnít really feel like I was getting as much egg as I wanted.  Thatís a good thing, because Iíve had it where there was so much egg, I wondered where the meat was.  I definitely prefer it the way it was today.

 

Both stores serve cocktails, Sierra Madre has outside dining while Temple City does not, both have kids menus, both serve food to go and have catering menus, and both accept reservations for parties of 7 or more. Sierra Madre is also equipped to handle parties of up to 40 in a private room at the back of the restaurant. You can find the menus for either store by going to www.sangabrielvalleymenus.com/casadelrey, or going directly to www.casadelreyrestaurant.com.    

 

Bill Coburn is owner of SanGabrielValleyMenus.com, a restaurant website featuring dozens of  restaurantsí menus, as well as downloadable coupons.  He has nearly 20 years experience in the restaurant business, and has been eating for much longer than that.

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