El Rey is a Mexican restaurant on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Commerce Street. It’s a pretty popular lunch spot, especially for the suits who inhabit downtown on weekdays. I visited for lunch on a Thursday, and my dining companion and I chose to sit on the patio, which is pretty nice. Your meal at El Rey begins with chips and salsa (as it should), and we ordered a side of pico de gallo for our dipping pleasure. It was all pretty great, and it really hit the spot since I was starving.
For an entree I ordered vegetable fajitas (tortillas are in the aluminum foil). Often when I eat out, I like to ask specifically about the animal ingredients that concern me. If I ask if food contains “animal products” I often get told “no” when it does, in fact, include animal products, and if I ask if something is “vegan” I have even less luck. I asked specifically if the rice contained chicken stock, if the beans contained lard, and if the vegetables were cooked in butter or chicken stock. Since the answers to all questions was “no” I felt comfortable ordering this dish, but I always recommend doing your own research. Sometimes different servers will give you different answers, like when someone at Fido told me the veggie sausage was vegan–I found out later that it was not. Also, recipes and cooking methods change from time to time. Always ask what’s in your food! You have a right to know, and asking shows chefs and owners that there is a demand for vegan products.
On to the food. It was good! The beans and rice were great, the guacamole (it’s a topping, you can’t really see it in the picture because it blends in with the lettuce) seemed pretty fresh, and the veggies were nicely seasoned. I would have enjoyed some more variety with the vegetables as they were just peppers and onions and tomatoes. Some broccoli or zucchini would have been great, and I sort of expected mushrooms. I ended up using all the tortillas, as there were only two or three, and while I probably could have requested more tortillas I decided to eat the rest of my veggies and beans and rice with a fork.
I’ll probably be back to El Rey, if for no other reason than the location. It’s pretty convenient right there on 2nd and Commerce. So far, Las Palmas on 19th is my favorite “authentic” Mexican spot, but I haven’t tried all that many and I’m open to discovering more. If you’re downtown and need to grab some lunch down on 2nd, and you want a waiter instead of counter service, head on down to El Rey. And get some pico, because it’s tasty.
139 2nd Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37201
No website available