To be frank, there are many places like that around the country. What makes Camacho’s Place special is its unique history in a unique place called the Imperial Valley.
Originally a store and a pool hall where Knechel’s parents prepared burritos and other food for farmworkers, Camacho’s Place is now a California-designated landmark, according to the E Clampus Vitas historical group. It has a special place in the hearts of Valley residents, winter visitors, sailors from Naval Air Facility El Centro and countless others.
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An unassuming structure on Wahl Road several miles southwest of El Centro, few would assume Camacho Place’s would have fed a prince of England, as it did Prince Harry recently, or that it would be featured on television cooking and travel shows and highly recommended in many dining guides. But the food is that good, and so is the atmosphere. The scores of cars often parked outside Camacho’s speak to all that.
Most of the success is thanks to the irrepressible Knechel, who loved to cook and come up with new dishes. Among her creations was the special quesadilla, which became a staple for many folks eating at Camacho’s Place and which has since been much copied locally and beyond.
When people visit the Imperial Valley, more than often they are taken by locals to Camacho’s Place. There they will not only get a taste of some wonderful food, they will get a taste of what the Valley was and still is.
All of that was thanks to Marie Knechel and her wonderful second home, Camacho’s Place.
Marie Knechel’s passing
She created an institution.
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