7894 Washington Blvd
Visited September 2nd, 2011
Let's start with this - R&R Deli is sorta in a gas station. Okay, that is not all together true. This place is separated from a gas station by a plexiglass wall. A thick piece of plastic is all that separates you from a land of slowly rotating hot dogs and beef jerky. But, if you are lucky enough to be on the right side of the plastic, you are in for a fantastic world of authentic Mexican flavors. Oh, I didn't mention that? This is not the type of Deli where you get a pastrami on rye. R&R Deli, located attached to a Shell station in Elkridge, may be one of the best kept restaurant secrets I have ever experienced and a taste of Mexico north of the border.
The first time you step into R&R you get a couple of sensations. The first is a sense of awkwardness and then, potentially, claustrophobia. The place is small and if you happen to be there when there are more than three people ordering you will find yourself saying "excuse me" and shifting around for some space more than once. When you are able to make it up to the counter to order you may also be in for a little surprise. "Menu" is a pretty loose term at R&R. There are a couple laminated sheets with some basics, but the good stuff is up on the wall, under the daily specials, which are written using a Sharpie and in spanish.
If you want to "go safe" or are just looking to try something small that R&R has to offer, go for a couple tacos. Carne Asada, Chicken, Chorizo and a marinated pork called Pastor are just some of the many options. Each taco, served on a corn tortilla and simply garnished with chopped onion and cilantro, packs quite a bit of punch for just $2. The meats are well spiced and are highlighted with the simple preparations. These are the epitome of "Dirty Tacos."
While the tacos are excellent, there are a number of great choices, if you can translate the writing on the wall. Two standouts are the chile relleno and a dish called huaraches. The chile, stuffed with a dense cheese, fried and served with a spicy red sauce, is an excellent balance of heat, flavor, and texture. The huaraches, served with the meat of your choice (go with the pastor) are corn cakes with cheese, meat, avocado and a creamy sour cream like sauce is filling and delicious.
A really nice part of R&R is found in the refrigerator next to the counter. Instead of a fountain soda, or even a standard bottle of soda from the food mart, the fridge contains a selection of Mexican sodas and juices. While the fanciest restaurants are serving Mexican coke, not many places can say that they have Fanta or apple soda made with real sugar. The selection really complements the authentic Mexican fare.
R&R shows that you don't need to be in a big, fancy restaurant, or a trendy food truck to serve really good food that will keep people coming back. If you are anywhere close, battle those who are in the parking lot just to fill up their cars. The real gem at the corner of Routes 1 and 175 is a small little deli where the tastes of Mexico shine through in a truly big way.