Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Veg Out: El Camino Real


It's taken me months to sort out my feelings for El Camino Real.

Most of them drunken, rendering me unable to trust my gut.

My first visit fell on New Years Eve, which automatically discounts it because you reckon my experience was most likely hellish. Not so, however, as we nailed some prime seating at the bar and were able to tuck into seitan wings, guacamole, and a seitan smokehouse platter without complaints. The wings came out with top remarks, whereas my platter was shy of what I wanted it to be. I'd had my heart set on potato salad and baked beans as sides, but neither one was vegetarian. But the seitan was all over the place like a gentle promise, and it was prepared brilliantly.

You all know how some places can screw over seitan because they don't know how to cook it.

El Camino may have stuck that, but they upset on the pecan pie. I wanted the original, they sent out a hockey puck of nuts. Good thing I wasn't there for dessert. A dose of Don Julio '42 righted that wrong.

I kept with drinks for my next sessions at ECR, finding that at the Walmart-like prices, no finer margarita could even approach.

On my last visit, after the rollercoaster of review by both local weeklies, we walked into an El Camino that was rocking with birthday tables. Margaritas and birthdays, margaritas and everything. I would never argue against this drinking situation.

I swept my eyes to the Mexican side of the menu and opted for the chile rellenos, made with seitan. That's respect from the kitchen right there. We also had the seitan wings again, which get better and better each time. I wasn't in love with my rellenos, but I found it satisfying and inventive. I almost asked the green salsa to be my girlfriend. Once I find the burrito that's mine, I will probably convert Real with an absoluteness.

El Camino Real, Liberties Walk, www.bbqburritobar.com

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