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Restaurants & Bars 4

El Campeon (San Juan Capistrano) Last Night (long)

Big Larry | Mar 22, 200511:30 AM

Last night I had the pleasure of taking some out of town guests to one of my favorite hidden OC gems....EL Campeon restaurant in San Juan Capistrano, located in the El Adobe Plaza. For those unfamiliar it is more a lunch counter than a restaurant. You stand in line, order your food from the steam table, get a number, wait for them to call your number (they always call it in Spanish but if you fail to hear and they have to call it more than a few times they will alternate between english and spanish), and then sit down to eat at the counter or outside at the folding tables and chairs. The place is very very meat-centric. There is always a line and my favorite thing about waiting in line is watching the carnitas man take huge hunks of pork out of a vat and attack them with two cleavers. He will reduce 10 solid pounds of carnitas to chunks and shreds in under a minute. But they offer everything from pastor to carne asada to birria to carnitas to chicharrones and on and on. Last night we had two carnitas burritos, a pastor taco, a birria taco (which when ordered the guy looked at me and said in broken english 'Birria is goat, you sure') and a grande bowl of the pozole. The burritos were amazing. Not brick sized by any means but very very large....more than a meal for a normal person. Filled with meat with just a little filler to add flavor. It's almost just meat wrapped in a tortilla. And the absolute bomb. The tacos were awesome as well. The goat was so tender and there were big chunks of soft onions as well and the pastor was great too. And these aren't your normal taco truck tacos, these babies are huge....two is a meal that would leave a normal person stuffed. And the pozole....oh the pozole. Hands down the best pozole i have had. It's a deep deep red with a layer of grease floating on top full of insanely tender porn neck bones and fresh hominy. With the oregano spice mix and onions and cilantro and tostadas it might be my favorite thing to eat in Southern California. We brought our own beer (nobody ever seems to say anything) and split a horchata (their aguas are wonderful as well...the fria (strawberry) in the summer is mind-numbing). Grand total for three people with all of this food was $22.69. It was more than enough and left us feeling very very good. If you like to eat meat, and don't mind getting a little greasy it's an amazing little place. And in the same plaza the El Campeon have a panaderia (it's OK, there's one across the street much better), a carniceria with great asada, and a record shop. It can't be beat.

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