Family takes pride in serving up Mexican dishes

Posted 8/14/22

Caminero Authentic Mexican Food is attempting to be the genuine article.

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Family takes pride in serving up Mexican dishes

Ivan Vasquez of Caminero Authentic Mexican Food stands behind the counter at the Peoria restaurant.
Ivan Vasquez of Caminero Authentic Mexican Food stands behind the counter at the Peoria restaurant.

Caminero Authentic Mexican Food is attempting to be the genuine article.

That’s good for Mexican food enthusiasts who live on the west side of town. Caminero Authentic Mexican Food is tucked away on the west side of Albertson’s Plaza, 8248 W Deer Valley Road, Peoria, But don’t be fooled — the restaurant packs a massive punch despite having a casual, laid back atmosphere.

Staples such as the enchilada and hard tacos have kept the joint open since October 2008, according to Ivan Vasquez, co-owner of the restaurant.

Mexican food establishments are in abundance around these parts. But Vasquez, 32 ­— who started helping his father, Esteban, 17 years ago — said the staff treat customers like they are family. Ivan works with his father, mother and brother and other family members at the business.

“We actually care for the products we give to the public,” Vasquez said. “We don’t cut corners. We actually put love into our food.”  

Meats, such as carne asada, are marinated from a family recipe 2-3 times per day to give it a special taste. Taco shells are deep fried and made-to-order rather than not coming out fresh, Vasquez said. The family takes pride in its marinade — a pride that lets the restaurant stand ahead of the competition, he said. 

Some plates, such as the fajita quesadilla, seem to have just the right blend of meat and cheeses that go down easily.

The authentic cuisine made-to-order didn’t happen overnight. Instead, the family had plenty of practice. Caminero, or walker, is the restaurant’s namesake for good reason. Vasquez saw his father work long hours for a Phoenix Mexican restaurant for some 25 years after he came from Oaxaca, Mexico, south of Mexico City. In 2001, the family opened its own place on 7th Street and Dunlap Avenue in Sunnyslope, Vasquez said.

“(My dad) showed me what it means to be a hard worker and how it pays off,” Vasquez said. “He had another job in the morning and then (he’d go to the restaurant) in the afternoon. He sacrificed by not seeing him. He was always away working.” 

Vasquez started off as a cashier and dishwasher and eventually learned the ins and outs of the restaurant business. The restaurant was an after school job when he was 15.

He attended school and eventually earned a business degree from the University of Phoenix. That education would come in handy for his eventual return to the family business.

“I grew up in the business of restaurants,” Vasquez said. “In the end, I just ended up coming right back to it.”

Now, he can flip a bean and cheese burrito into form in less than a minute and he loves making the food when the restaurant is at its busiest. At times, he said the restaurant gets huge orders — such as nearby schools who feed faculty members. About 100 breakfast burrito orders is not out of the ordinary, he said.

Now, he said he’s use to the grind of duties from inventory to getting burritos made.

“(We want) to give the community good food,” Vasquez said.

Family, pride, serving, Mexican