by Eric Ginsburg
I should’ve just let Molly Davis write this article.
To hear Davis, the assistant general manager at 88.5 FM WFDD, talk about the food at Taco Riendo 3 is to be transported to the small Mexican restaurant. The location near the radio station’s office on Wake Forest’s campus is connected to a Citgo gas station on Reynolda Road, and when Davis goes for the chicken burrito or chorizo torta, she’s likely the only white person in the joint.
Hand-held burritos aren’t easy to find here — most Mexican restaurants serve the kind that comes plated and slathered with sauce, to be consumed with a fork and knife. And even though Taco Riendo provides plastic cutlery, this one is best eaten with your hands.
Though the Triad is teeming with excellent Mexican food options, many of them small storefronts somehow hidden from view on main strips like this one, a solid burrito is enough of a rarity that I initially doubted Davis’ assessment. But her mouth-watering description of the food made it hard to resist finding out firsthand.
The burritos here are served in the southern California style — just rice and beans with a meat of your choice, though the addition of a crumbled Mexican cheese, almost like parmesan, is part of what makes it a fantastic lunch choice. Lettuce comes on the side with a slice of tomato, one piece of onion and a lime wedge, as well as an impressive red hot sauce worth adding to the mix.
An assortment of meats can be added, though like Davis I recommend the pulled chicken, or add other toppings like my friend Emily, who asked for jalapeños in hers. It’s not the style that I, or many other gringos, have become used to, partial to the San Francisco-style with all sorts of fillings. The kind that come so full, ingredients are often bursting out, especially if it’s a burrito from Chipotle. But to plenty of people, this style of burrito is home. It’s not basic, at least not here — the cheese is killer, the beans and meat receive proper preparation attention, and it’s a more appropriate amount of food.
The caldo, or soup, was the most popular item among other patrons — all of them Latino — when I stopped in last week, but with Davis’ words ringing in my ears, I couldn’t rightly leave without trying the chorizo torta.
If there is a Mexican version of a Sloppy Joe, this is it. The ground chorizo, or sausage, is bound to spill over the sides of the sandwich and stain the soft bread, making it best when consumed quickly rather than taken home for later. Topped with large jalapeño slices —almost too many — onion, tomato, a little lettuce and a piece of avocado or two, Taco Riendo’s torta is everything you’d hope for, and then some.
But pricewise, the burrito may be the best deal on the menu at $5.25, about $2 more than the gorditos but less than a flight of four tacos. Taco Riendo has everything you’d expect — enchiladas, quesadillas, platillos with a handful of choices, taquitos and more. As I waited for my food at the “Mexican fast-food” restaurant, other patrons ordered an al pastor torta and six carne asada tacos. That, and the assortment of other dishes around the room, particularly the caldo, suggests that pretty much anything is a safe bet.
In taste and vibe, Taco Riendo 3 is reminiscent of El Rancho Taqueria, arguably the other best Mexican restaurant in Winston-Salem and located clear across town. I’ve heard people talk about it the same way Davis describes Riendo, and understandably so. But after that burrito, TR3 may be at the top of my Camel City list.
Visit Taco Riendo 3 at 3619 Reynolda Road, Suite 100 (W-S) or find it on Facebook.