Foodie friends, brace yourselves. I’m about to go where no Birmingham food blogger has gone before, and admit a shameful secret.

It’s true-occasionally, I eat at one of our city’s dozens of cheap Mexican restaurants. You know the places of which I speak. The places where the decor consists of brightly colored statues of animals; where the servers give you refills on your chips and salsa within seconds of consumption of the last chip, whether you want them to or not; and where the waiters may or may not be wearing sombreros. I am not an expert on Mexican food, so I can’t speak to the authenticity of such places. But I can say that these places can really hit the spot, whether you are trying to satisfy a craving for mole, eat a filling meal for less than $10, or are just searching for a $2 margarita between the hours of 3 and 5pm.

Each of these places, in my experience, has at least one, if not several, unique reasons to visit. My favorite of these is the shrimp soup at El Cazador in Irondale.

El Caz is across from Bojangles, next to Zaxby’s, on Montclair. Just so that you can take in all of that ambiance, it has a great outdoor patio. I really do like to sit out there when the whether permits, which it hasn’t lately.

I was in Birmingham by myself, without Mr. Foodie, one week in December when unfortunately, I came down with one of the many lovely colds or flus that has been plaguing the Birmingham area. Who wants to cook, or eat somewhere fancy, when one cannot breathe out of either nostril and when the only sound one can make is a cough. I pointed my GPS to El Caz, and ordered the best sick-person food I know of in the Ham.

The shrimp soup is huge, enough for a light meal. It is made with a clear (perhaps chicken?) broth. Swirling in it are large shrimp, plus rice, avocados, tomatoes, and some peppers, which make it just spicy enough to clear the sinuses. It is really delicious and just what I needed. It was more effective than my Sudafed and Robitussin combined:

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And you can’t beat the price:

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El Cazador on Urbanspoon