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El Rey Burro

Don't let the gas station housing fool you, this is good food

The Pollo Asado is a selection worthy of any sit-down restaurant. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

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ANNOUNCER: Dutch and Jackie head south this week to check out Yelm's fascination with a gas station that boasts the best Mexican food in town. Rarely without a line at the counter, this little gem may be hidden in the back of a service station, but the food takes a back seat to no other.

JACKIE: Visiting a gas station grub locale always feels like a little adventure to me. It could prove to be a monumental mistake or a damn fine decision. Given the reputation, I expected a damn fine decision and El Rey Burro delivered.

DUTCH: The most surprising dish that I came across is the Pollo Asado. This is a large breast of chicken that has been grilled and seasoned in Mexican spices. Add beans and rice to this succulent chicken with a spicy kick and this is a selection worthy of any sit-down restaurant. Additionally, the sides were prepared well; the rice is mildly seasoned, and the refried beans weren't dry like it is far too often at Mexican places.

JACKIE: Gah, I heavily considered that one but opted to start with the tamales. Let's face it, tamales are the testament to authentic Mexican cuisine. And for a mere $2 a piece, with a choice of chicken or pork, I couldn't pass it up. These gems were so delightful I envisioned someone's Abuela lovingly crafting them in a cozy nook at home, rather than the prep kitchen of a gas station ... in Yelm of all places.

DUTCH: The item everyone talked about in line is the Carne Asada Tacos, so I figured "what the heck" and grabbed the three-taco plate for just $8. Perfectly seasoned and a generous helping of moist slices of steak makes it clear why this is a destination plate. Like many of the other dishes, this, too, comes with rice and beans.

JACKIE: The menu at El Rey Burro is not only reasonably priced but boasted a pretty fabulous selection. I hemmed and hawed among the menu items, struggling to decide among the selection of burritos (too similar to the tamale), tacos (too simple), chili rellenos with cheese (not what I was hankering for) and finally settled on the Hawaiian Torta. This fella boasted a nicely toasted bready base loaded with ham and cheese. Fresh tomato and crisp lettuce played nicely with the sweetness of the pineapple and spice from jalapenos, add avocado and onion and you're diving into a heavenly sammie.

DUTCH: I always appreciate the extras with Mexican cuisine. Things like house-made sauce that ranges from mild to extra spicy that are available at the counter. Also, I can grab a soda anywhere, especially considering El Rey Burro is in a gas station, but Orchata isn't always easy.

JACKIE: Pro tip: you can call ahead and order your food for pick-up, which I recommend.

EL REY BURRO, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday, 608 W. Yelm Ave., Yelm, 360.960.8381,

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