Sat, 01/5/13 11:09 AM
Saturday December 1, 2012 (cont.) On the short walk from the mission to our where we were eating dinner, we passed what is known as the Esslinger Building, a real art deco beauty built in 1939. El Campeon is found in a small shopping center and is hugely popular. We seemed to be the only non-Spanish speaking people here, but we had no trouble communicating. Service is through a cafeteria line and fortunately for us, the menu board is in English as well. All of the hot food looked wonderful, even though much of it we did not recognize. We placed our orders and then walked around looking at all the other fabulous things for sale. Fresh cut up fruit, two big cases full of bakery items, beautiful desserts, they even offer cakes for every occasion. But what really caught my eye was the agua frescas and they offered six different flavors. There was watermelon and pineapple, strawberry and cantaloupe, plus banana and horchata. If possible, I would have gladly tried one of each. Knowing from the Michael Stern review that when your food is ready, they call your number is Spanish, I was keeping a close eye out for a tray that looked like ours. And our number was called out in Spanish only. I showed the young girl my receipt number and to order my beverage, I asked for "sandia grande". As she was punching it into the register, she mumbled to herself, "large watermelon". Okay, now I feel silly! I also got a large cantaloupe (melon) for Mariton. Many people were taking their food outside to eat and those inside were glued to the soccer match on the tv. Apparently, the Los Angeles team was playing in the final match, which was of great interest to the patrons. BTW, the Los Angeles team won and it was fun seeing David Beckham talk in interviews (obviously dubbed) in Spanish. Anyway, we grabbed counter seats against the wall and dug in. Mariton went for the El Campeon combination plates, which is the deep fried pork, served with rice, beans and lettuce, plus some hot tortillas wrapped up in aluminum foil. There was plenty of soft, tender pork and crunchy fried skin. She was very happy with her dish. Even though she had no hangover, she asked for a bowl of menudo. I will have to take her word for it that is was good, but nothing special, because there was no way I was splitting it with her. My meal started with the palomita torta. This sandwich had thick ham, grilled cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole and beans on soft, buttered bread. What a great sandwich, but very filling! I also ordered a couple of tacos for us to share. Mariton preferred the lengua (beef tongue), while I was a bigger fan of the chorizo taco. They do have a small condiment bar and Mariton especially enjoyed putting different sauces and pico de gallo on her taco, some of which were way too hot for me. Now about those drinks..... These were absolutely amazing! My watermelon had a serious amount of small bits of fruit floating around and could not have tasted fresher. Mariton felt the same way about her cantaloupe. Nothing artificial, not too sweet, just the juice of the fruit. This may have been my favorite thing to eat or drink on the entire vacation in California. We were completely full at this point,but still managed to split a dessert Mariton picked out, which was jello in a thick, milky substance. She said it reminded her of a dessert back in the Philippines. El Campeon 31921 Camino Capistrano San Juan Capistrano, CA 949-489-9767 While walking back towards our car, we noticed a new store front that had just opened in the same shopping center. Looks like El Campeon is going into the water business. We checked into out hotel for the night, the Hyatt Regency in Irvine. We had plans to go back out, but we were feeling lazy and ended up just staying in. It had been a long trip so far and we were flying home the next day, so we were glad to get the rest.
<message edited by buffetbuster on Sat, 01/5/13 11:22 AM>