3 Caminos

Grocery Store | Mexican
Memorable
One of the best
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Located in the back room of a defunct gas station at the intersection of three highways, 3 Caminos Tienda y Taqueria does little to charm customers with the sort of happy Mexican decor that is commonplace among restaurants that serve commonplace Mexican food. 3 Caminos’ charm comes in the form of excellent food that is well above commonplace.

Walking in, a newcomer might be apprehensive. The building has no windows, except a few that have been boarded up. The store part of the operation, mostly at the front, is a maze of merchandise. Head to the back room and things perk up dramatically. Refrigerated bins hold very fresh looking produce. Epazote (for weekend menudo) might be drying on a makeshift rack nearby. At the back of a small, orderly dining room is a window to the kitchen. Smells wafting out the window are convincing argument to stay and place an order (at that window). Find something to drink in a case that holds countless cans and bottles of sodas from Latin America and the U.S. Have a seat.

It takes a while to get the food, for nothing is pre-assembled. When it’s ready, a member of the staff carries the meal out to the table you have chosen. The menu includes such basics as burritos (huge and picture-perfect), tacos, gorditas, tortas, and quesadillas. They can be made with ingredients that range from familiar — steak, carnitas (pulled pork), chorizo sausage, chicken — to such non-Taco Bell items as beef cheeks, pork stomach, and tongue.

I am particularly fond of carnitas, which is a jumble of soft shreds and bacon-crisp edges. It’s delicious unadorned, but even more exciting when dressed with one of the salsas set out on a buffet table near the order window. In addition to pico de gallo and sliced radishes, there are zesty salsas — an orange one that is Hades-hot, a cheerful green one that seems like little more than pureed and seasoned cilantro, and marinated onions laced with fiery habanero peppers.

“My friend,  you made a good choice,” says the only other person in the dining room early one weekend morning when I walk in and he hears me order menudo. “That menudo brings me back alive,” he declares as he wipes sweat from his forehead and pushes back from an emptied bowl. 3 Caminos menudo is potent stuff, no doubt — red-pepper hot and lacking the palliative hominy that tends to be a major player in Southwest and north Mexico versions. (Instead, you get tortillas on the side.) The great cinnabar-red soup is laced with perfumy epazote and loaded with nuggets of tripe so unctuous that they feel like soft, melty fat. I’m the first to say this is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea; but if you are a menudo fancier, check it out. In my limited experience, it is some of the best. (Saturday only)

What to Eat
3 Caminos, Carnitas Burrito
Carnitas Burrito
Must-Try
Mighty burrito filled with pulled pork et al
3 Caminos, Salsas
Salsas
Must-Try
Salsas: upper left is bright and sunny; dark green is ferocious; bright green is breathy with cilantro. Pico de gallo goes well on everything.
3 Caminos, Carne Asada Burrito
Carne Asada Burrito
Must-Try
Beautiful burrito features juicy carne asada.
3 Caminos, Pork Carnitas Quesadilla
Pork Carnitas Quesadilla
Must-Try
Pork carnitas quesadilla
3 Caminos, Steak Burrito
Steak Burrito
Must-Try
Burritos arrive cleaved in two.
3 Caminos, Carnitas Torta
Carnitas Torta
Must-Try
Carnitas is a glistening jumble of bacon-crisp ribbons and smokehouse-tender shreds of pork, here in a torta.
3 Caminos, Carnitas Gordita
Carnitas Gordita
Must-Try
Gorgeous pulled pork loves being sandwiched in a crisp-fried corn pocket.
3 Caminos, Steak Gordita
Steak Gordita
Must-Try
Steak gordita is a bouquet of flavor, a joy to chew.
3 Caminos, Chorizo Gordita
Chorizo Gordita
Crisp-skinned corn gordita pockets spicy chorizo.
3 Caminos, Steak Taco
Steak Taco
Simple, succulent steak taco
3 Caminos, Pineapple Cider
Pineapple Cider
From a case full of exotic and traditional beverages...
3 Caminos, Menudo
Menudo
Menudo is unctuous and very hot.
Directions and Hours
Information
Price
$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
No
Website

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