El Cinco de Mayo

Years ago when we were young and foolish my wife and I thought it would be fun to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with dinner at a Mexican restaurant, so we drove all they way up to Palo Alto to one of our favorites, Compadres Bar and Grill on El Camino Real. This, as it turned out, was a horrible idea. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, the restaurant decided to turn itself into a full-on Cancun-style party bar so they removed 80% of the dining tables to make room for wall-to-wall revelry complete with thumping music, plastic cups, sticky floors, and Corona girls. More bar, less grill. Not our scene. With most of the tables gone, we had to wait something like an hour and a half to be seated. Why didn’t we just leave? I have no idea; like I said, young and foolish. When we did get seated in one of the few tables cowering in the farthest corner of the place, the service was harried and the food was not their best. Who can blame them?

The following year we were a lot smarter. We went to Compadres again…but on St. Patrick’s Day! We had the place to ourselves. And where did we celebrate Cinco de Mayo? At an Irish Pub in Sunnyvale! No waiting. Two cultural celebrations fully satisfied. Only in America!

I’m sad to say Compadres is gone now, having abruptly shut their doors in 2008.  Many a Stanford alum will raise their margarita glasses in memory of their sizzling fajita plates. If you want to take a chance and mark Cinco de Mayo with a fine Mexican meal, there are many places to choose from. If you see a Corona girl though, sal si puedes! I could list for you all the Mexican restaurants on El Camino Real but that would be too obvious, so here’s a sampling of restaurants named El Camino Real, found all around the world. You can find a little piece of El Camino Real wherever you are. As long as you’re, you know, near one of these cities. ¡Viva!

El Camino Real Fine Mexican Food

Toledo, OH
Voted #1 authentic Mexican restaurant in Toledo! I can guess who was the #1 inauthentic restaurant.

Ann ArborEl Camino Real Fine Mexican Food

Ann Arbor, MI

Wow, there’s something really familiar about that logo, but I can’t quite put my finger on it…

El Camino Real Mexican Food

Fullerton, CA

I’m surprised there aren’t hundreds of these in California.

PhillyEl Camino Real

Philadelphia, PA
Unusual menu serves Mex and Tex. BBQ and burritos!

El Camino Real Authentic Mexican Food

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
It’s shut down, but we won’t hold that against them. It was a great URL, though. Why didn’t I think of that?

El Camino Real Mexican Restaurant

Connersville, IN

El Camino Real Mexican Restaurant

Bardstown, KY

El Camino Real

Kansas City, KS
Cheap street eats! You had me at “cheap.”

LondonEl Camino Fresh Mexican Grill

London, England
Okay so it’s not a “Real” Camino—Her Majesty might object—but it gets honorable mention because hey! It’s in England!

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