NORTH COUNTY N&D
Rico’s Taco Shop a hit in Encinitas
By Maria Desiderata Montana
February 14, 2008
ENCINITAS – Locals who appreciate the taste of authenticity have found their niche at Rico’s Taco Shop, a neighborhood eatery with a friendly and accommodating staff.
< “I know practically everyone that comes in here,” said manager Pavlos Iliadis. “I can usually remember what customers want to eat, side orders and all.”
Rico’s atmosphere is casual and comfortable, with a colorful Mexican mural on the back wall. The food is tasty, and the menu is stacked with extremely affordable choices. Place an order and carry out your favorites, or take a seat and dine at one of a dozen tables.
Chris and Dena Kousoulas purchased Rico’s in 1991. “Since I’m Greek, I originally thought I would only serve Greek food,” Chris Kousoulas said. “I decided to make a few changes, with some simple Mexican food items, and quickly discovered it was a hit.”
Dishes are prepared fresh without lard, preservatives or MSG. Kousoulas makes a delicious hot sauce from his own top-secret recipe. “We make 20 gallons of hot sauce a day,” he said. “People are drinking it.”
Break your fast with the tasty Huevos Rancheros: two tortilla shells, beans and ranchero sauce topped with two eggs ($3.85). The popular Breakfast Burrito is a hefty portion of salsa fresca, potatoes, cheese and eggs ($3.60). There’s also traditional eggs and sausage with toast or tortilla and hash browns ($4.05).
The most popular item on the menu is Justin’s Burrito, named after a high school student who came in regularly requesting a burrito stuffed with rice, beans, cheese, french fries, guacamole and lettuce ($4.05). “He has been a faithful customer for 10 years now,” Kousoulas said. “We named the burrito after him, and it’s a big seller.”
If it’s a Greek Gyro you crave, it’s always available. I loved the robust portion of seared lamb meat nestled in pita bread, topped with chopped tomatoes, onions and a tantalizing cucumber sauce ($3.75).
Lighter fare includes the fish taco – lightly fried cod in a warm corn tortilla, topped with cole slaw ($1.75).
Combination plates include a nice share of rice and beans. Select from two chicken enchiladas ($5.05) or two flautas with sour cream ($4.75), or mix it up with a beef taco, enchilada and tostada ($5.20) Side orders include chile relleno ($3.95), quesadilla ($2.50), Super Nachos ($4.05) or chips and guacamole ($2.75).
If you have any room left, try the fun fountain drink known as the Orange Bang – a sweet and creamy concoction that reminded me of an orange creamsicle, only with a straw ($1.20).
Discover for yourself why Rico’s has become a home away from home for so many people. “Really, we have so much more than tacos,” Iliadis said.
Rico’s Taco Shop, at 165-L S. El Camino Real, Encinitas, is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Information: (760) 944-7689.