Tuesday, January 12, 2010

El Camino Real

1040 N. 2nd st.
Philadelphia, PA

I am not really a fan of brunch. For one, I don't like drinking in the early afternoon, as that never leads to a productive day. Once in a while, a big greasy breakfast hits the spot, but I hate feeling bogged down and lazy (see point one). If I am going to eat something large and bad for me, I tend to favor the lunch options. But after an initial couple of fun night time experiences at El Camino, a good friend/Sunday bartender talked me into my second Brunch trip there again last weekend (not the drinking kind, but the greasy breakfast type). I don't really like the Piazza all that much, but I have BBQed there, and I have been to El Camino a handful of times. It is a great place to avoid the normal long waits for brunch around the city. And they serve a mean Tex-Mex (Yes, I also hate that phrase, but it is the only way to describe this food) brunch. The chips and salsa (not pictured) have a great flavor and there is some sort of spicy paprika salt powder on the chips that is a great treat. Also, they serve two kinds of salsa, one spicyish green tomatillo salsa, and what I believe is a lightly smoked pico de gallo for the other. Smoke is a big part of the menu here, and I approve.

Above is the smoked Jalapeno grits and eggs. They were served with duck cracklings (those things that look like chopped peanuts) and sliced scallions on top, cojita cheese mixed in, and two soft cooked eggs peeking out. The grits were outstanding, smoky with a nice kick. I have recently become very fond of grits. The soft cooked eggs lent a rich, and creamy swirl once the yolk was broken, and really contributed the flavor and feeling of indulgence. The duck cracklings were sort of lost in the richness, but they gave a nice texture contrast to the rest of the dish. I would eat those grits anytime, and they were really the star of the dish, as they should be.

Pictured above is the baked huevos racheros. Right off the bat, anything served in it's own cast iron skillet is going to have to try pretty hard not to please me. This is a great rendition of a staple Mexican breakfast I have had many times. I got my eggs over easy, and they were accompanied by corn tortillas, refried beans, cilantro, onion ranchero sauce (awesome), chihuahua cheese and crema on top. Although I ordered Chorizo with it, it came with sausage. The situation was quickly rectified, and I now had 3 full sausage links split over the top, and a side of two chorizo patties. Hear that? It was my arteries clogging. With delight. The huevos are great, but like everything at El Camino, they are not for the faint of heart (literally, your cholesterol goes up looking at the food). But you are here for greasy breakfast food, and as such, you should just embrace the fact that you will undoubtedly be tasting this food until dinner (there will be no need for lunch or snacking, as the portions are ample, and hearty). Below is my favorite thing on the menu, the house smoked chorizo patties. They are SO GOOD, spicy, smoky and deep in flavor I could eat these with every breakfast I have out, and it is really saying something if I prefer a breakfast meat to my esteemed friend, bacon. So check out El Camino, and if you are in a drinking mood, they have a great selection of tequila and pretty decent beer selection as well. Just don't plan on being hungry for the rest of the day.

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