KCK's Royal Road*

Cue the soundtrack:

By the way, I can watch the girl on the right for hours, something hypnotic about her dancing.

El Camino Real in Kansas City, KS was recently listed as the number one on the Kansas City’s Top Ten Cheap Tacos list, which I am following as if it was a list of the 10 commandments of cheap food. After several visits to the place  I would agree that it’s undoubtedly one of the top taquerias in the metro. I usually avoid the word “authentic” because, as I have mentioned before, I have never had a meal in Mexico outside the feedlots for the pasty fat people otherwise known as resorts in Cancun. However, if I had to imagine what the Mexican people eat at home, it would be something like what’s served at El Camino Real.
Over the past several years my idea of the “real” Mexican food has evolved to exclude anything with puddles of melted cheese and mountains of lettuce, not that there is anything wrong with that. The type of Mexican taco I came to like is a simple mound of filling on a small corn tortilla with cilantro, onions and pico de gallo served with it or on the side. Sometimes you will get a lime but that’s as fancy as it goes. The secret is in simplicity which is what I appreciate in any food.
At El Camino Real the kitchen area is open so I was able to annoy the cooks hanging around and taking pictures. This is the first place where I saw the tortilla-making contraption and was able to capture its operation on-camera.

The process is pretty simple. After tortillas are rolled…

…they go on the griddle…

…some pork “al pastor” is cut off

the spit and mixed with pineapple you can see above it …

…few more minutes of cooking…

…and done!

On the left-hand side you can see al pastor, on the right side is asada – steak and on the top is the lengua – tongue.
Here is another photo slightly turned:

You can see the rest of the taco selection in the menu:

The place is clean and has plenty of seating. I was able to park right outside of the door but there is plenty of non-metered parking in the area. On both of my visits, there was at least one English-speaking person in the restaurant, usually the waitress. If you dine in you will get complimentary chips, salsa and pico de gallo. Carry-out didn’t come with chips or pico de gallo, but I didn’t ask. They did send plenty of chopped cilantro, onions, salsa and limes.

3 tacos and a Mexican Coke (which is now sold at Costco, at least in Midtown) ran up to $6.48, a little price to pay for what the greatest restaurant critic of all time (to be left unnamed) called “the best tacos I had in my entire life”

*I used Google Translate, I am not exactly sure El Camino Real is The Royal Road

  • Thanks for such a thorough report; I must try this place soon. Even in KC it’s hard to find good tacos al pastor.

  • The second video says it’s private and we have to be friends for me to watch it. Hmph.

    I indeed HAVE had real Mexican food, back when I went on a couple of missions trips (Cliff has a lot of jokes about “mission trips”) with some Baptists. I also had a lot of Mexican food when I was working side by side with the migrants at the apple orchard. I bought the best tamales from them!

  • sorry,I am not sure why the video was private,fixed now

  • Now that’s what tacos should look like!
    The Royal Road is a legit translation for El Camino Real.

  • Those tacos look AWESOME!!! You can indeed purchase Mexican Coke at the Overland Park Costco as well. I discovered that last weekend. I was tempted to get some to try, but I was nervous about the potential sugar coma.

  • I don’t think it’s actually sweeter.

  • I noticed last time I went to El Pollo Rey that the “Mexican coke” was now using high fructose corn syrup. Thus, it seems Coke has caught on or maybe it was a fluke. Not sure, this was on the bigger Medio litro bottle. Here is a link to a photo I took of the bottle. http://johninkc-esbe.posterous.com/mexico-coke-not-so-special-anymore#

    Thanks for the review and pointing me toward the Al Pastor, its amazing.

  • I didn’t pay attention to the coke bottle, mine was a smaller glass bottle. I will be more careful next time,because they charge for it like for the real thing

  • Their tacos al pastor are my absolute favorites! I always skip the Mexican Coke and get a Piña Jarritos.

  • I travel for JOOLS

    Eat, drink and be merry before the food police slap taxes on those sinful cokes and Gawd knows what else.

  • DLC

    I never said these were the best tacos I’d ever had.

  • right

  • Anna

    I tried those tacos and they were delicious. Thank you Meesha!
    I think they have a second location, also in KC,KS

  • DLC

    Yes there is another location over near Kansas Ave/Argentine. For some reason it gets no publicity and I don’t know anyone who’s eaten there.

  • I talked to what I believe is one of the owners about El Camino’s hours this week. According to him they are open as late as midnight on Friday and Saturday night at the 7th st. location. He went on to mention that the location at 1147 Argentine Blvd KCK is open as late as 3AM on Friday and Saturday.

    Cool thing I noticed? On their business card take a close look at the arch way. In it is a man slicing pastor from the spit…awesome.

  • It’s in Armourdale: just south of Kansas Avenue, between 7th and 18th St. Expwy. This whole time I thought that was the one everyone was talking about! I ate there some time ago, and it’s excellent as well. Probably a little sketchier than the other one. While you’re there, drive around Armourdale a bit. It’s like a trip back in time.
    El Camino Real
    1147 Argentine Blvd
    Kansas City, KS 66105-1644