Augusta’s Top-Ranked Mexican Restaurant to Open Grovetown Location
Grovetown residents are about to get their very own taste of what Augusta Magazine named the best Mexican restaurant in Augusta this year.
Taqueria Y Carniceria El Rey (known locally as Taqueria El Rey), which opened on Washington Road last year and has quickly become a hometown favorite for what the owner calls “Mexican comfort food,” is getting ready to open a new location on Lewiston Road in Grovetown, near Kroger.
Ramiro Galvan, co-owner of the Martinez restaurant, says he and his staff are aiming to open the new location in January or February. Galvan recently signed a contract with Dunkin’ Donuts to lease the space; the chain owns the property near the corner of Lewiston Road and Bluegrass Trail, where Taqueria El Rey and a few other retailers are preparing to open.
Now Galvan is waiting for the county to approve the blueprints of the new store, which will be smaller than the restaurant’s current location on Washington Road.
“We just won Best of Augusta, and we want to keep it that way,” Galvan said.
In the restaurant’s short 17-month history, it has become popular among locals seeking authentic Mexican food. That was Galvan’s goal. When he moved to Augusta from California 15 years ago, his requests for street tacos at local Mexican restaurants, to his surprise, were met with puzzled faces.
“If you go to Mexico, they’re going to have the chorizo, el pastor with pineapple…the good stuff,” Galvan said.
After working at local restaurant Mi Rancho for almost a decade, Galvan, along with his sister, father, mother and brother-in-law, opened Taqueria El Rey in the West Town Shopping Center off Washington Road in Martinez.
Prior to working at Mi Rancho, Galvan had managed another Mexican restaurant at the same location called El Valle when he was just 18 years old. This time around, Galvan saw an opportunity to create a restaurant that broke away from traditional Tex-Mex menus filled with Speedy Gonzales’ and chimichangas. The Galvan family forgoes American mainstays like ground beef burritos for tripe (stomach) and beef tongue.
Nick Sanchez, a loyal customer of the Taqueria El Rey who often eats there multiple times a week, says he discovered the restaurant during a search for authentic Mexican cuisine after moving to the area from Fresno, California.
“I came here earlier at 3 o’clock to get some meat, and now I’m back here again,” Sanchez said.
“Whatever meats I get back in Cali, I can get here,” said Juan Gomez, another customer.
Patricia Galvan, Ramiro’s sister who’s personable side lends itself to her role at the front of the house, thinks the tacos are the best thing on the menu.
“Growing up, there were tacos on every corner,” Patricia said of her childhood experiences in Mexico and California.
That may not be the case in Augusta, but locals can add the corner of Lewiston Road and Bluegrass Trail in Grovetown to the list. The new restaurant will have a smaller menu than the Martinez location, featuring the top 20-30 items that prompted Augustans to rank Taqueria El Rey at the top.
“We wanted it to be something homemade,” Patricia said. “(Hispanic) customers tell us it tastes like something grandma made.”