leave your inhibitions at the door
It’s almost a cliché now to say that, if you really want to eat well on vacation, you have to eat where the locals eat. Maybe you’ll get something that uses local, fresh ingredients. Or you’ll enjoy food made with recipes handed down through the years. At very least, you have a great chance of meeting genuine people and get a glimpse of the true nature of where you’re visiting.
The dark side to all of this – I’ve been to some places in the Midwest where the only places residents eat are an IHOP or at the food court at Walmart. At that point, you may want to avoid the locals as well.
I knew I wanted to have at least one meal where the people of Tulum ate. Lucky for us, on most lists of top rated restaurants was the local favorite – El Camello, Jr.
The restaurant was on the edge of the town of Tulum, as far as possible from the beach area. It was as if the town itself filtered out any stray tourists so that it’s locals-only, plus the few adventurous foodies on a mission. There was no “happening across a hidden gem.”
We went on Saturday for a late lunch and the place was packed. It sat about a hundred people, and we were among the half a dozen Gringos in the whole place.
It’s a seafood restaurant and we certainly had our share of it. But first…
On to the seafood…
And, even though the temperature outside was in the upper 80s, I had to have the mixed seafood stew –
We were blown away by how good everything was. The seafood, as expected, was super fresh. The execution was perfect – nothing was in the least bit overcooked. The ceviche was bright and citrusy and the octopus had deep, earthy flavors. As you can see in the guacamole picture, we went to town on the black beans. I couldn’t believe how delicious they were.
The only thing that we could’ve done without was the guacamole. It tasted absolutely fine, its just that we ordered wayyyyy too much food. All of the portions were gigantic – that “small” order of ceviche could’ve easily been shared by three people. One reason we ordered too much was that there were so many items on the menu that were calling out to us. And the other part was how ridiculously cheap everything was.
All that food plus a couple beers and Margaritas added up to a whopping $50. At those prices there was no guilt of wasting money on food we couldn’t finish.
Though I did wonder – where the heck was El Camello Sr? And exactly how big would the portions be there?
Hmmmm…. Reason #937 why I definitely gotta go back to Tulum.