After hearing such good things about El Camino Real, and all of their vegetarian options, I had to pay a visit to this new, signless spot on Liberties Walk. I was craving tex-mex so much, I actually hopped the subway on a freezing holiday night. It was worth it. El Camino’s dim, candle lit space, filled with inexpensive, classic unvarnished pine import furniture immediately felt cozy.
Senor Lanky and I started the evening off right with a few drinks -a Michalada for him, and a classic margarita with additional chili and salt for me. They were both yummy and nicely spiced, though the Michalada is made with Clamato (boo!) and not vegetarian-friendly.
I was ravenous, so we quickly ordered the chips and salsa. While I usually vote for the rojo, it was the pulpy green tomatillo salas, heavily dosed with lime, that caught my attention, though the chipotle red was nice, too.
One of the best things about El Camino, Senor Lanky pointed out, is that they don’t try to do tex-mex – they do Mexican and then Texan, with all kinds of veggie options. Brilliant!
I went absolutely appetizer crazy. First off, homemade jalepano poppers, stuffed with real cheese, a little bank of spice, and a deliciously sweet sauce with pineapple and, if I remember correctly strawberry. The appetizer is wonderful, but at $8 for two, perhaps a bit expensive. Through another popper in there, El Camino, and you’ll have my heart.
I’m on a never-ending quest for Philadelphia’s best fried pickles (Memphis Taproom, you’re still crushing) so this appetizer was a no-brainer. And damn tasty. They may not look like much, but the cornmeal batter is a genius move that prevents the chips from getting too grease-sogged. The chili-mayo wasn’t half bad either.
I ended the evening with an order of the BBQ Seitan (spicy style). Again, a revelation! The seitan had a wonderful, peppery, crispy-grilled flavor by itself, and was dynamite dipped in the bbq sauce.
El Camino, I’m dreaming of my next visit.