For the fifth straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, presented by Concordia University. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2011."
I stopped by the new El Rey Family Market, 5200 W. Oklahoma Ave., that opened last week. It's located across the street from Serb Hall.
As a regular shopper at the El Rey on Cesar Chavez Drive, I was very curious about this newest store that promised to not only sell Latin American food items but Polish and Serbian groceries as well.
My first impression of the store was very positive. Large front windows provide a lot of natural light which makes the space very visually appealing. Big colorful pinatas in the windows add cheer to the scene as well. Overall, El Rey Family Market feels newer and cleaner than the other locations.
But for me, part of the reason I like the other El Rey locations so much is that I feel like I am shopping in a Central American market. The noisy, chaotic aspect of the other stores is missing – at least at this point – and I missed it.
Most of my favorite Mexican food items were available at the new store, however, I was disappointed they did not have the spicy red El Rey chips. I spoke to a stocker and he said he wasn't sure if they would carry them in the future, but he would place an order for them. (I appreciated this.) He also said the week-old store was still getting in its stock, so I'm keeping a very open mind about my overall opinion of the new El Rey for now.
I also wished the new locale had a sit-down cafe, even a small one. There's a taco truck parked right outside, so on a warmer, less rainy day I might have indulged in a couple of items and eaten outside.
One of the goals of the El Rey Family Market was to reach out to a wider audience, particularly to Milwaukeeans with Polish, Serbian and German roots. I did note boxes of Polish rice, jars of pickled beets and digestive biscuits, among other items, but I thought there would be a lot more European items. (Again, maybe there will be more in the future.)
Finally, I was also slightly disappointed that the religious candle section is much smaller than at the other locations. They did, however, stock a style of candle I have never seen before. It looked like it was poured into a pint glass with a rounded bottom. I bought one for $1.99 to put on my Day of the Dead alter.
I will return to check in with the El Rey Family Market, although at this point, because I live so much closer to the other two locations, I probably would not seek this one out. It is, however, located kiddie-corner from Discount Liquor, which is definitely a plus.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.