31441 Santa Margarita Pkwy. #P
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688
Visiting Sara and Kevin is always such a good time. They live out in Rancho Santa Margarita, and it is always interesting to see where they pick for dinner. We have been to numerous restaurants out there, some good and some bad. They suggested that we go to Carmelita's, on the lake. We had all been there one time before, and I remember liking it, but I did not have my camera, so I did not bother blogging about it. This time, I would not let that opportunity go to waste.
Carmelita's is located lakeside in RSM, in a building that has hosted numerous restaurants. They have two other locations, both in the Sacramento area. This is the first one open in Orange county. The Sacramento restaurants have been around since 1962, and this one has been here at least a year now. Let's see if the food is as good as our first trip.
Above is the chips, salsa, and black bean dip that comes with the meal. All of these were very good. The black bean dip was a nice change of pace from the norm at Mexican restaurants. The salsa even had a little kick to it, which I liked. The chips were average, but were made better with the salsa and bean dip.
Sara and I decided we were going to each have a margarita, so we let the waiter talk us into getting a pitcher for ourselves. I knew Sara would not be able to keep up, so I would have most of this for myself. I am conniving like that. We did not know at the time that the pitcher was going to be thirty dollars, but that is what we get for not asking, and for me being greedy. The margarita was smooth and simple. Not too bad of a drink. I would even say that it is one of the best I have had in awhile.
Katie got the Costa Brava. Shrimp sautéed in salsa and butter. Served with chilies, onions and tomatoes. She liked the buttery taste of the rice, and thought that the shrimp had a great flavor. I liked the taste of this mild dish, but I was a little annoyed by the shrimp tails being left on this. Why do they leave the tails on, maybe it is because it keeps the shrimp fresh. Not sure, but it is annoying to cut the tails off.
This plain looking dish is Kevin's. He went with the Chimichanga de Camaron. Usually this comes with salsa on top, but Kevin wanted this with out it. He liked the taste of this, but did not rave about it. I thought the oil streaks on the plate were a little disturbing here, but he did not seem to mind.
Sara opted for the Flautas de Pollo. I can not pull any punches here, this could be the worst dish I have ever had at a Mexican restaurant. The chicken was so dry it was like eating sand paper. I even dipped it into the salsa, and it soaked up the liquid like a sponge, and still was as dry as the Mojave desert in August. I would have been very angry if this was my meal. Even Sara was disappointed in this plate.
I went with the Royal Combination. The first part of this seafood combo was the sub par, crab quesadilla. This tasteless concoction was so bland, it could have come from Chipotle. The plain look of this quesadilla is a clue as to how plain this tasted. Not good at all.
This is the second item of the Royal Combo, the lobster enchilada. This was okay, it really lacked the wow factor, which is difficult when lobster is an ingredient. Just an average item.
The last seafood item was the one I was least excited about, but it turned out to be the best. The shrimp relleno, was very flavorful, and something I had never had before. The chili part of this could have been better, but the shrimp and salsa, with the cheese was pretty good. This part of the plate saved the meal.
Carmelita's was not very good this trip. I feel that it is way over-priced, but that is not a surprise considering the area. My seafood three item combination was over twenty dollars. The service was good, but was almost too good. It seemed like every three minutes there were people asking if we needed anything, or if they could clear plates. I am not sure I would give Carmelita's another try. I imagine you can find something on the menu that is good, but you may go broke trying to do it.
Out of five patos, (because Carmelita's is located on the lake and there are many ducks around), five being best to zero being worst, Carmelita's gets 1.5 patos.
If you would like to get more information about Carmelita's, click here: http://carmelitas.homestead.com/index.html