Tuesday, May 27, 2014

KIng of the Roadhouses

No photos: can you bear it? One exception, below.

Restaurante El Camino Real, on the outskirts of Pátzcuaro near Tzurumutaro has long been a favorite wayside rest. Its menu makes few if any concessions to modern Mexican culinary trends. In other words, you won't find Carpaccio de Calabacitas or Atún Sellado on the menu. No, the carta runs more towards traditional Michoacán and Mexican favorites. Two things drawing a large and loyal clientele are the generous portions and speedy service. Fast service is a must, as on weekends and holidays, the place is packed, and lines form out the door of customers waiting to be seated.

I last reviewed El Camino Real more than six years ago, focusing on comida, but last Sunday, came time to review an almuerzo, or hearty breakfast. We were joined by KimG, "El Gringo Suelto", who was wrapping up a month plus drive around Mexico.

I am not going to relate our conversation, but I will describe what we ate.

We all ordered excellent hot chocolate de metate caliente; KG had huevos revueltos con nopales, cebolla y chile verde; Sra. Cuevas had huevos estrellados  (sunny side up!) con tocino (bacon); and I had Huevos Camino Real, a minor variant on Huevos Albañil. The Camino Real version was a bowl of sprightly, chile-inflected tomato sauce, with perfectly cooked golden curds of scrambled egg.

There were baskets of attractive pan dulce y pan salado teleras in the style of Panadería La Espiga, but a lighter bake on the latter. There was a decent salsa roja on the table and a salsa verde  was brought on request.

Further along in the meal, I saw good looking, steaming uchepos (sweet fresh corn tamales) being brought to nearby tables, so I ordered some to share. They were very good, light and not too sweet. The hot, custardy sweet young corn was wrapped in fresh, green corn husks. They were accompanied by separate dishes of crema and queso fresco. I ate my share in the tomato-chile salsa remaining from the Huevos Camino Real.

This breakfast revived my appreciation of El Camino Real, as my other recent breakfasts there, with the Men's Breakfast Group, had been less lustrous.

I would have liked to have taken photos, but hadn't brought the camera, and besides, the table was so crowded with dishes that photography would have been very challenging.


Food: ****

Service: *****

Cost: (I don't really know, as Kim picked up the check. (THANKS!) but historically, El Camino Real has been an economical place to eat. Let's say, under $100 pesos per person, and probably less.

Rest Rooms: I didn't use the rest room on this visit, but they have always been dark, semi functional but basically clean.

Tip: arrive before 2 on weekends if you don't want to wait.

Pátzcuaro - Morelia Highway, Route 14, between the junction of the lower end of Avenida Lázaro Cárdenas (2nd class bus stop, Federal Police substation, and the Tzurumutaro entronque, (junction) where Fed highway 120 goes north towards Tzintzuntzan and Quiroga. The restaurant is on the same lot as a Pemex gas station and a newer Oxxo.

View Larger Map

 Here's an older picture of the building. It has hardly changed over the years since we started going there.