Saturday, August 29, 2015

Vayanse Para El Carajo for Brunch

No I'm not mad and yes I love you guys. That's why I'm sharing a great brunch spot with you. Raise your hand if you have ever had an amazing brunch, or any other meal for that matter, at a gas station? I bet most arms are down. I'm not talking about Diet Soda, mystery meat sandwiches or Ho Hos here. I'm talking upscale, Spanish food paired with fine wines. Well, over on 2465 SW 17 Avenue, there is a BP Station and hidden inside what is supposed to be a Food Mart, is El Carajo, a tapas and wine restaurant and its sister bakery. But don't let the exterior fool you. Once you step inside, you will experience what is generally known as the "El Carajo Factor", and you won't soon forget it. I know I'm still baffled by it, and I can only equate it to stepping into a culinary Twilight Zone where you momentarily escape the hustle and bustle of Miami and enter a quaint tapas bar in Spain.

Imagine stepping into this the next you go pump gas

This is not your ordinary Food Mart

The first time I ever went to El Carajo was many years ago when they were located on 57th Avenue. It was nice, and we had a great time "tapeando" with friends over wine. But then I heard the spot had moved to a gas station on 17th Avenue. Mind you, I wasn't overly excited about going to eat at a gas station, so time continued to pass before I returned and as I drove by there, I always wondered where it was, and how it looked inside. Seriously, from the outside, you can't even imagine what you are about to see when you go in.

No…Ashton Kutcher is not jumping out and you're not being punked.

Next time someone sends me Pa' El Carajo.. I'm coming here

So, once they launched their new Brunch service, I decided to take the plunge. I drove there, filled my tank with gas once I got to the station, and then walked in very cautiously (I Periscoped my adventure, by the way, so make sure you're following me on Periscope if you missed it) Anyway, the first thing I saw ( and smelled) was their bakery. It is situated right at the front and to the right, and you automatically know that you are not in Kansas anymore, Toto. But it is what your senses behold when you walk a few steps more that makes your jaw drop. Imagine a beautifully decorated, elegant restaurant, complete with a wine room and a bar, just waiting there to be discovered. I was floored. Literally, I was wearing new heels and I almost fell. But read on my friends.


We started with a Mimosa and took a look at their brunch menu. The El Carajo team obviously took great care in selecting a nice variety of dishes, both tapas and main plates, to offer during brunch. We decided to select a few of our Spanish favorites and began with their Huevos Estrellados and Croquetas Sazonadas. You can choose from either cod, ham, chicken, chorizo or bacon croquettes, and they are served with their homemade cilantro aioli, which is lick-the-spoon worthy. We went for their ham and codfish croquetas and they were mmm mmm good. I find that the traditional Spanish Huevos Estrellados dish (or Huevos Rotos as it is called in other places), is prepared differently everywhere. The meat that comes with it varies, as does the way the potatoes are cooked.  El Carajo's version is very flavorful; the eggs are served over grilled chorizo, and mixed with red onions and brunch potatoes. The whole delight is then drizzled with olive oil.

Huevos Estrellados

Ham and Codfish Croquettes

Next we tried an interesting tapa I always enjoy when I embark on Spanish adventures.  It's the Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates. I love the combination of the sweet dates with the salty, smoked bacon. Their version includes Spanish chorizo and it is fried to perfection. I couldn't come here and not sample a Spanish rice so we ordered the Arroz Temprano, an original recipe created by their team, consisting of Valencia rice, infused with… you guessed it, chorizo, mushrooms, and eggs, then seasoned with olive oil, peppers and onions. It was simple yet tasted amazing.

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Arroz Temprano

I told you they have a bakery at El Carajo, where they sell some pretty memorable macarons, but what left me begging for more were their Torrejas. Their Spanish style French toast took my breath away, and we drenched them in maple syrup shamelessly. Oh, if you like Crepes, they serve fresh ones, filled with strawberries, bananas and your favorite and mine.. Nutella.


If you haven't been to El Carajo and experienced this hidden gem inside a humble gas station, then you need to hurry and change that. Now that they serve brunch, you have even more of an incentive. For more information, visit their website or call them at 305 856-2424.

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