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Oct 4, 2008 11:06 AM

El Camino in SD now open

El Camino Mexican Restaurant on Juniper Street in South Park is finally open--just in time for the South Park Walkabout tonight.

Last night was their opening night, but they won't be serving alcohol (beer and wine) until next weekend. I stopped in late last night to check it out. The interior is very dark, but fun--I loved the blinking Virgin Mary and Jesus wall.

I did sample the black bean soup ($6), but was too full to try anything else. A quick glance at the rest of the menu revealed the usual offerings (tacos, burritos, quesadillas)--which kind of surprised me. I guess I was expecting more tapas or regional Mexican cuisine, especially considering there is a Sombrero's taco shop just around the corner on Fern Street.

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  1. I went with a group of 7 on that same night. We did not have a positive experience. The best item at the table was the Caesar salad, but even that was quite expensive for what you got (literally a plate of Romaine lettuce with dressing). Our overall impression was that far more time was spent on the decor than the menu.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Josh


      I hate to say it because I like the concept of El Camino and I love the fact that it is a short walk from our house and the menu is nearly 1/2 vegetarian, but you are right: time and money was spent on the decor and not the food.

      I'll give them another try in a few weeks to see if they can work the kinks out but with El Comal, Ranchos, Bennys and the Marisco German truck all within a 3 minute drive, they really need to bring their A Game to the table.

      Loved the cukes and the jicama they bring, did not like having to pay for chips. The black bean soup was good. They used unseasoned white rice in their dishes which was strange... I blame it all on opening weekend jitters.

      Wishing them luck...

      1. re: Ewilensky

        Heh, wonder if we were there at the same time. I live about 2 blocks away from the place. RE: the white rice, one of the owners sat at our table and told us that was something they wouldn't budge on, that they were committed to only using plain Jasmine rice. Our party's whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth, literally and figuratively.

        1. re: Josh

          Ah, you must've been the big table that sat down while we were there Friday around 7/7:15ish. Yeah, I heard that interaction. She seemed to have gotten quite defensive. She also asked us what we thought, and based on her response to you, which we overheard, we decided to politely nod and leave.

          I think even seasoned mashed potato would be better than plain jasmine rice - or adding some salt and vegetable broth. I mean I primarily cook vegetarian at home and my rice tastes great.

          Hopefully some of the gimmicks will fade and they'll do some real cooking because through it all it seems like the kitchen knows how to cook but just gets mired in misguided ideas.

          And what a bad time to open with the economy the way it is. We'll go back in a few weeks. I want them to survive. Kudos for them for wanting to keep the kitchen lard free, now serve me up some good tasty food!

    2. does anyone have recent feedback on el camino? i saw this place yesterday while driving through south park and wanted to stop in, but wasn't able to.

      2 Replies
      1. re: beachbunnySD

        They've taken much of the above suggestions into consideration and have improved greatly from our original posts.

        That said, my wife and I only visit on half price taco Tuesdays -- any other time we find them overpriced. With El Comal, Ranchos, Super Cocina and Mariscos German all within a 5-10 minute drive, they're easily outcooked and outpriced by the neighboring competition. Still, when Tuesday rolls around, and we're tired and don't want to cook or drive, El Camino makes a nice addition to our rotation.

        Worth popping in next time you're in the neighborhood. I imagine if you're driving in from another part of town there are better places to eat for less money. Still, the decor is pretty awesome...

        1. re: Ewilensky

          Yeah I've found them much improved, but still not worth the cost.