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Tuesday, November 10, 2015
El Camino Real: Real Tacos, Real Mexican Food, Real Good ... HOOAH!
If you want authentic Mexican food, handmade tortillas, cheap prices and fast, friendly service, El Camino Real in Kansas City, Kansas is the place for you.
I grew up in California where El Camino Real, the royal road, runs the length of the state with Spanish missions founded by Father Junipero Serra strategically placed every 50 to 100 miles. This El Camino Real provides sanctuary, very much like those 21 California missions, but in the form of excellent food rather than shelter. Unfortunately, it just happens to be about 50 miles from my home.
A small place with 15-20 tables, the little kitchen sits in open view as you walk in the door where a lady was making fresh tortillas for each order. I grabbed the last table in the place and the server quickly brought chips, salsa and small cups of pico de gallo, cilantro, and diced white onions to add to the tacos. The chips were obviously made in-house and were thick, warm, and crispy just the way I like them. I asked if they had a small or side order of guacamole so I could try it, but the server told me they only sell one size and it was $3.99. I told her "thanks, but no thanks".
The tacos are in the traditional Mexican-style, with only the meat of your choice (pastor, asada, carnitas, picadillo, pollo, pescado) piled on two hot, grilled, handmade tortillas, not the crispy American variety you get at Taco Bell and most Mexican restaurants. I had one taco al pastor ($1.99 - sliced pork with pineapple), one carne asada ($1.99 - sliced steak) taco, one picadillo ($1.99 - ground beef) taco and a chicken enchilada à la carte ($1.49). Adding diced white onion, pico de gallo, fresh cilantro and salsa to the tacos, the only thing missing was some guacamole, but they were delicious nonetheless. I would have preferred a cheese and onion enchilada, but I failed to specify, so what I got was a chicken enchilada. My least favorite variety, it was still pretty good, although not very hot, and the red (chili) enchilada sauce was dark, rich and superb.
My only gripes are that you cannot get a side order of guacamole and the fact that they used a microwave oven to heat my enchilada, resulting in inconsistent melting of the cheese (see photo above) and a lukewarm enchilada. But hey, compared to the sad excuses for what they call Mexican food in Lawrence, these flaws are minuscule.
My bill came to a little over $7 including tax, so with tip I paid just $10 for a great lunch. A value meal at a fast food joint costs nearly that, so this filling lunch was a tremendous value. I tried to talk the owner into opening an El Camino Real in Lawrence. He seemed interested, but alas, it will not likely happen in my lifetime. Too bad.
CombatCritic Gives ElCaminoReal 9 Bombs Out Of 10 ... Bombs Are Good!
Title: El Camino Real: Real Tacos, Real Mexican Food, Real Good ... HOOAH! Key Words: El Camino Real, el, camino, real, Mexican, taco, Kansas City, Kansas, city, 7th, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor