Saturday, July 2, 2016

Restaurant Review: Camelia's Mexican - Royal Oak

Authentic Mexican Fare, Locally

See update below, 7/7/16

There's a running joke in our house that if a restaurant is close to us, we just won't go there. We seem to be martyrs for a long drive for good food. Case in point? We have Vinsetta Garage about five minutes from the house but we prefer another restaurant in that same group called Union Woodshop that not only involves about an hour's drive, but typically a three hour wait for a table.

When it comes to Mexican food we typically drive to neighboring Madison Heights for Azteca although occasionally we will make it an adventure and head to Mexicantown in Southwest Detroit. However, Camelia's is less than a mile from the house and we pass it at least a few times per week without ever stopping in.

I was very hesitant to try this place. I have had mixed reviews from friends. This included some pretty negative reports but also some really positive remarks. It really was a matter of just trying it after years of passing it on the way to somewhere else.

I have to say that for a repurposed Pizza Hut (1970's version of the building) this is really cute. They have made the most of it with brightly colored Mexican decorations including some beautiful kitschy ceramic suns with faces (I'm a sucker for those) and some cow skulls with flowers. The bar surface is covered with brilliant blue Mexican tile.

The chips were a little different than what we are used to but were fresh and not very greasy. The salsa was good but I prefer a cheese dip and would order that next time. I really do love cheese dip while waiting for food. Speaking of entertaining myself while waiting for the food, I did also enjoy a glass of Sangria and this was good stuff. There were real pieces of crushed oranges or grapefruit in the concoction and I would definitely get that again.

I ordered a "New" Mexican Gordita with carnitas. This included two masa cakes sandwiching chunks of pork, along with refried beans and a healthy topping of cheese. The masa cakes were lightly fried ("griddled" according to the menu to be technically accurate) and were a new taste for me. I would have liked something a little more in the sandwich - I"m thinking avocado - but it was good.

One of my favorite Mexican dishes is Chili Rellenos. his came with a side of Spanish rice and more refried beans as this was considered an entree. At Camelia's you can choose between cheese, chicken, or beef for your stuffed poblano peppers. I'm a purist and always go for cheese. These were not whole peppers but a plate of slice peppers layered with batter and cheese and it was delicious! You could tell that this was fresh, and fresh oil, as often when I order them elsewhere the batter takes on other flavors from the fryer that are not appealing. The presentation doesn't look beautiful but see past that!

We also ordered a combination plate with a soft taco, hard taco, and a quesadilla. The quesadillas were big hits with the kids, especially with the grilled version. Lots of cheese in between those tortillas.  Both the ground beef and the chicken were seasoned lightly and also very fresh. The Spanish rice was very good, and that's often "hit or miss" at some restaurants. This was a good consistency and not too soggy. The beans were especially good and very authentic.

To round out our sampling we also ordered shrimp fajitas. Look at that layer of cheese! Enough said! Nice selection of vegetables that of course you can't really see in that photo, along with a generous portion of shrimp. These were not shrimpy shrimp but nice size.

Summary? We will definitely go back to this local restaurant to sample more Mexican fare. Flautas and Tamales are on the list to try next time along with a Margarita!

Update 7/7/16
 Unfortunately, tonight's visit was not as delicious and was underwhelming. In speaking with other locals, perhaps it's "hit or miss"? Tonight we ordered a chicken fajita with cheese. It came without cheese and featured huge strips of chicken that did not absorb the flavors of the peppers and onions, leaving it bland. We also ordered a three item combo with a shredded beef soft taco, pork tamale and a enchilada suiza with stuffed with cheese. I have to say, if you want tacos or tamales, just go to Super Taco. It may be that I'm spoiled by my lunch there earlier this week and I do like to sit down but this just wasn't the same quality. The enchilada was okay but not great. . .

I did have that Margarita I had planned. I would stick to the Sangria. It was a lot more refreshing and had real fruit while the frozen margarita was a lot of mix.

No comments:

Post a Comment