The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

El Camello, Jr

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.

camello outside

Don’t be fooled – the place truly was a dump.

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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…

Of course there were complimentary chips and salsa

Of course there were complimentary chips and salsa

Small order of guacamole

Small order of guacamole

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On to the seafood…

The small platter of mixed seafood ceviche

The small platter of mixed seafood ceviche

 

Octopus Guajillo-style

Octopus Guajillo-style

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And, even though the temperature outside was in the upper 80s, I had to have the mixed seafood stew –

camello stew

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Wow.

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.

camello bill

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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.

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About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

9 comments on “El Camello, Jr

  1. reversecommuter
    September 30, 2014

    We bought our fish there if the boats came up to the beach empty! Love reading about your experience there. And now I am totally starving…

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 30, 2014

      I don’t know why I torment myself with these tulum posts. Every time I finish one I find myself checking prices on flights back there.

  2. A Famished Foodie
    September 30, 2014

    Yum! That ceviche looks out of this world, and there’s so much of it too! When I order it around here, it’s twelve bucks for a portion that’s only big enough to satisfy one.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 30, 2014

      Usually it’s enough to satisfy one as an appetizer. This could’ve been shared as a meal!

  3. talkavino
    October 1, 2014

    Looks delicious! By the way, why there is no “comment” option in the “TheSicilian” post? Tell her that Mario Batali is pretty responsive on Twitter, and if she would invite him for dinner, well, I don’t know – everything is possible…

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      October 1, 2014

      Interesting in two ways. First, I thought I scheduled her post for tomorrow. Second, no idea why comments were turned off. I just turned them on, but will copy paste yours there. Thanks, Anatoli!

  4. jessicaheckingernowak
    October 8, 2014

    This is ALWAYS our first stop in Tulum as soon as we get into town from the airport. I can’t wait to go back in December! Glad to see you had a good experience too.

  5. Pingback: Hartwood – Best Meal Ever? | The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on September 30, 2014 by in Dining, Travel and tagged , , , , , .
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