I usually hold back for a little bit when a new restaurant opens. I want to give them a few weeks to work out any kinks since you can’t really forget a first impression a place gives you. For some reason I broke that pattern twice recently. Two highly anticipated restaurants have opened in the past couple weeks and a friend invited me to lunch at one and the other, that’s the one this post is about, was something I’d been super excited about all throughout it’s construction. Of course I’m talking about El Camino the new California surf culture meets Mexican street food meets a Tiki bar on Bardstown Road that comes to us from the same folks behind The Silver Dollar. So one night this week my beloved and I kicked off date night with dinner at El Camino.
If you were blindfolded and dropped into El Camino’s dining room I’d be surprised if you would immediately recognize that you were in the place that once housed Avalon. What was once dark and either cozy or dreary (depending on your mood) is now open, airy and bright. Light wood tables, brightly colored chairs and bar stools, surfer videos projected onto a wall, a giant California bear mural at the entrance and Lucha Libre masks make the space feel completely new.
I started the meal with what El Camino’s drink menu calls the basis of everything they do: the daiquiri. Not that crazy frozen blended kind of daiquiri but the real classic daiquiri with just a few simple ingredients. It was perfection in a glass. Truly, a great cocktail. It’s definitely going to be my drink of summer next year.
We ordered the queso fundido as an appetizer and it was absolutely delightful. A delicious combination of melted cheese, mushrooms, onions and peppers served with fresh warm corn tortillas. It’s possible I asked for a couple extra tortillas because I liked them so much. Possible I said, possible.
For the main meal I ordered enchiladas and B ordered tacos and rice. My enchiladas were a delicious combination of adobo, potatoes and onions covered in salsa verde and crema.
B liked both of the taco varieties she tried but the Baja fish taco was by far her favorite. That’s going to be her go-to El Camino dish. I’ve heard some folks complaining about the price of tacos at El Camino ($3-4 per taco) but I didn’t find them to be overpriced given that El Camino sources a great deal of local meat and that they probably just spent eleventymillion dollars turning the old Avalon space into such a beautiful, new highlight of Bardstown Road.
I’m a flan person. Since the first time I tasted flan when I was like 12 years old it’s been my favorite dessert. I’ll try flan just about anywhere it’s on the menu. What I’m saying is I know flan and the flan I had at El Camino was the best flan I can remember having. The texture was just perfect. Such a happy making thing.
We loved El Camino. The food was great, the service was attentive and it’s unlike any other restaurant in town. We already have plans to have dinner there with friends next week. That’s the most passionate vote I can give a place: eating there two weeks in a row.
It was too chilly the night we visited El Camino but you can see from the following pictures how very cool their outdoor space is. Come summer that outdoor tiki bar is going to be insanely popular I suspect.
1314 Bardstown Rd
Current hours as of 10/25/13:
5PM-2AM (last seating for dinner at midnight)