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Carnitas Querétaro Lent Specials (Comida de Cuaresma)

El Paso, TX

Special Ratings
Five Stars :
Pescado Veracruzano  |   Green Chipotle Enchiladas  |   Lentejas  |   Mashed Potatoes  |   Capirotada  |   Horchata 

Four Stars :
Pescado al Mojo de Ajo 

Special Lent menu in 2010

On Fridays during Lent the well-known El Paso restaurant Carnitas Querétaro serves Comida de Cuaresma (Lent Dinner) specials that are among my favorite Mexican food experiences. Lent specials are provided for the faithful who wish to go without meat at least one day a week in favor of a fish or vegetarian meal. The restaurant says on the menu "It's time to be good," but I think it is also time to enjoy some delicious meals.

Two types of soup are offered in the specials, but my favorite is Lentejas, or lentil soup.

Lentejas served during Lent
Lentejas served during Lent

This soup is wonderful in its simplicity, with whole lentils, a few spices, and a dark broth. Served with Horchata, a rice drink with cinnamon, this is the start to a classic El Paso style Lent meal. Corn or flour tortillas are usually served with the meal, but I like to request that corn tortillas be served with the soup.

The main dinners are offered by themselves or as a package deal with soup and dessert (drinks are extra). Fish or shrimp is available, and there are three toppings offered for each one. I was surprised to discover that fish and shrimp are only available at Carnitas Querétaro during Lent, and are not on the regular menu. Perhaps this helps explain why the quality of the fish is consistently high.

Veracruz style fish fillet with salad, rice, and mashed potatoes
Veracruz style fish fillet with salad, rice, and mashed potatoes

One of the styles served is Pescado Veracruzano, or Veracruz style fish with a tomato sauce and green olives. The flavor of the fish is mild, and this helps to highlight the delicious sauce with green olives, chiles, and spices. I probably enjoy the Mashed Potatoes as much as anything on the plate, with a home made (not from instant potatoes) taste.

Diabla style fish fillet
Diabla style fish fillet is one ofthe spiciest foods at Carnitas Querétaro

The Diabla Style Fish Fillet is also very good, but do not order this unless you like extremely spicy food. This has not been on the Lent menu every year, but it may be rotated back to the menu at some point.

Order the Al Mojo de Ajo fish or shrimp if you like an overwhelming garlic flavor (actually I do not, but Carnitas Querétaro does cook this style of fish the traditional way for those who do like it).

Green chipotle enchiladas
Green chipotle enchiladas

It is also possible to order a vegetarian meal, and of course enchiladas are always available from the menu. A special sauce, though, is available on the Lent menu in the Green Chipotle Enchiladas (shrimp chipotle enchiladas are also available). Normally the enchiladas at Carnitas Querétaro are not quite as remarkable as at other restaurants, but the chipotle sauce is not only very good but also largely unavailable anywhere else (or at least I have not seen it anywhere).

Capirotada bread pudding is the traditional dessert

Capirotada dessert tops it off, a kind of drunken bread pudding with raisins and the little sugar balls on top that are sometimes used on cupcakes.

There are several Lent specials I enjoy in El Paso, but the one at Carnitas Querétaro is one of the best in terms of food quality (good fish, soup, and dessert). It is also one of the most filling and most expensive, which to me is probably its biggest drawback. Items are offered a la carte, though, if your appetite is not as large. A traditionalist, though, probably has to "have it all" for a complete Lent experience.