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This cozy corner café with its spacious patio overlooking lightly travelled Old Town Tustin is a mainstay for many locals. The Del Rio family dishes out some of their hometown Michoacán’s traditional dishes, meshing them with a few more Central American favorites, and come up with a winner that satisfies breakfast and lunch cravings for a multicultural clientele that can appreciate Mexican authenticity.
In our inaugural visit we tried their much lauded chilaquiles in both their red sauce and green sauce versions. The basic recipe calls for homemade chips, topped with a sauce, topped with your choice of egg. You can also add any of the traditional meat offerings as a topping as well. We especially admired the green sauce with a clean and slightly spicy twang. The sauce was light enough so as not to saturate the chips, leaving them with a rewarding crunch.
The red sauce has been admired by many, but I would like to point out that this variation is for the diner who prefers a creamier texture, which should be eaten immediately so as not to saturate the chips below making them soft and doughy.
As usual, we ask for items that are highlights of the restaurant – something that is utterly unique to them, or something of which they are proud. The affable Billy Del Rio steered us toward their “dirty Horchata,” of which they claim to be the first originators. This is your traditional Horchata (a sweet rice, milk, vanilla and cinnamon drink) infused with a shot of espresso. Brilliant! The espresso adds a clarity and counter-balance to the super-sweet Horchata which some non-natives can find too thick and sweet for their palates.
With family from Mexico, my palate is well-versed in all foods Mexican. This little tastefully decorated and conscientiously operated lunch and breakfast nook will not disappoint native Mexicans or those who crave the taste of true Mexican variations one can typically only taste in Mexico, unless done VERY WELL here. Thus, I also ordered the traditional cinnamon coffee called Café de Olla which immediately transported me back to my early adulthood days lounging in a Mexican café.
What I find to be especially enchanting is Billy and Lizet’s ability to reach out to each and every client and like they were family. I observed many conversations help between them and various diners realizing that more than just food bonded owners to clientele here. This was heartening to see. We will return soon to discover some more nuances of what I am sure will become one of our favorite Michoacán go-to spots.
Our review of El Camino's Choice Lunchtime Specialities is on deck. Look for our update!