Cafe El Camino in Playstow – NECN

Like all Caribbean cuisine, Puerto Rican cuisine is a must-see, whether you’re a meat eater or a fan of plant-based cuisine. But finding it in New England is not so easy.

Most restaurants serving Puerto Rican cuisine are located in large Hispanic cities such as Boston, Worcester, Providence, and Springfield, or in regional factory towns such as Lowell, Fitchburg, Woonsocket, Lynn, Fall River, and Holyoke. tends to be

But if you look closely, you’ll find that even small communities are dotted with Puerto Rican restaurants. That includes stores that are basically in the middle of the woods in New Hampshire, just north of the Massachusetts border. And like many hidden gems, Café El His Camino on Plaistow is one of those places where he’s known only to locals, but he’s also one of the locals because the food is amazing. It’s just starting to be known outside of Japan.

For those unfamiliar with Plaistow, just over State Highway 125 near the border with Haverhill, you might think the town is just a bustling commercial district with endless chains and heavy traffic. No, but that’s just a small part of this tiny southern region. community in New Hampshire. U.S. 108 differs as much as possible from U.S. 125 south, being primarily country roads and not even exiting Interstate 495 — conspicuously under the freeway just east of the U.S. 125 intersection. — and head north into more and more idyllic lands.

A few miles north of the Interstate 495 underpass and a little south of the Newton border, out of nowhere you’ll find Cafe El Camino in a small strip mall. Like any strip mall, this mall is pretty inviting, with subdued signage such as Café El Camino, which draws in customers with hanging flowers, white railings, and a sign reading ‘Famous Empanadas and Puerto Rican Cuisine’. is characterized by

The inside has the feel of a takeaway spot, with a central ordering counter and a few tables set up along the walls and front windows, but it’s certainly comfortable enough to dine in.

Before Café El Camino debuted in late 2019, the business was well known to farmers market frequenters. The people behind this business had stores throughout the region including Derry, Exeter and Portsmouth. It was found across the borders of Boston, Newburyport and Waltham. Those who have visited the Farmer’s Market knew that the Farmer’s Market is a business that focuses on gluten-free foods whenever possible, while also offering a number of delicious vegetarian options. And this is also true when it comes to restaurant offerings. There is definitely plenty here for meat eaters as well.

The beginning of a meal at Café El Camino includes dishes not even on the menu. The recipe is a secret, so don’t ask me how to make it. Admittedly the soup is one of the best here, a delicious and flavorful mix of root vegetables, chicken and others I won’t reveal the names of (and yes, I was asked about dietary restrictions when I first arrived). increase).

The soup itself is also very delicious, so it’s hard to get going, but there are many menus that you can’t miss, such as the famous empanadas with plenty of ingredients. One of his most delicious is the beef and cheese empanadas. It resembles a cheesesteak stuffed in a crunchy pastry. Pizza empanadas, on the other hand, are a little different, but go well with the blend of cheese and tomato sauce. Other empanadas include his vegetarian empanadas with cheese, chicken & cheese, potatoes, plantains and more.

Many of the dishes served at Café El Camino are deep-fried, and in addition to empanadas, there are also wonderful fried foods such as regenos de papa, which is a bit like arancini with seasoned beef and mashed potatoes, and alcaprilla. Yucca or green plantain dough is stuffed with ground beef or mashed beans and mushrooms (both versions are stuffed with red peppers, green peppers and sofrito).

You can’t miss the rice dishes here, especially the arroz con gandules, a wonderful combination of ingredients such as rice, pigeon peas and braised ham. Also, the true highlight of the menu is the classic Puerto Rican mofongo with plenty of garlic flavor. Serve the mashed plantains in a wooden mortar and garnish with crispy plantains. Additional options such as beech mushrooms, shrimp, crackling chicken, steak and onions, pork, and salted cod can also be ordered.

If you’re not sure what to order at Café El Camino, choose one of the combo meals that includes some of the items above plus wings, roast pork, and beef steak. Don’t forget to save. Flan and tres leches are also available, so you can also enjoy dessert.

When you see a small shopping street along a New Hampshire country road, you might expect it to have pizzerias, sub-shops, Chinese take-out restaurants and convenience stores, but it’s off the beaten path. You won’t find a Puerto Rican restaurant worthy of a road trip to. This is really special. It’s also not far from Manchester, Nashua, Lowell, or even Boston’s major population centers, and can be reached in less than 45 minutes without traffic.

Café El Camino may not be a household name, but it should be on your short list for those who like to find lesser-known eateries that serve exquisite cuisine.

Café El Camino, 134 Newton Road, Plaistow, NH, 03865. Cafe El

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