Review By: Elizabeth Walle –
The Highlands neighborhood of northwest Denver has been rapidly changing over the last decade, and even if you count among those who struggle with the lingo (where does LoHi end and the so-called Upper Highlands begin–do The West Highlands include the Berkley neighborhood?) you probably know that it’s currently one of the places to be in Denver. The signs of gentrification are everywhere: artisan cheese shops, charming bicycle repair spots, coffee shops to while away the hours, and an increasing amount of trendy restaurants. Among these is El Camino on West 32nd Street, a Mexican spot that stands out from the many taquerias scattered around town.
What strikes first is the decor: a bright pink storefront and fun and flashy interior accoutrements–dia de los muertos skulls, a light fixture made out of empty beer cans, you get the gist. The restaurant bills itself as “a community tavern” and the vibe is indeed consistently convivial, with a super friendly waitstaff. The menu is neither the most “authentic” nor the most innovative Mexican food around — but the nachos are some of the best in town, as are the chile rellenos, a dish I normally avoid. The queso is sort of a legend in the neighborhood.
What really makes El Camino stand out is the daily specials. My favorite is Tuesday’s street taco madness: $1 street tacos all day long. By “street taco” they mean sublimely savory little corn tortillas garnished simply with onion, cilantro and your choice of beef, carnitas, chicken or veggies. I go carnitas every time and I recommend you do as well. And keep ’em coming.
El Camino is definitely a place to get your grub on, but don’t forget the drinks: the margaritas are the real deal, simply made and mixed with any of the 100 or so tequilas they have on their menu. Tequila is no joke at El Camino, and you can become an aficionado yourself by joining their Tequila Club, which is basically a tequila happy hour every Thursday. There is always a great selection of beers on tap, and two happy hours every night of the week (one early and one late).
El Camino is the kind of neighborhood spot that will always do right by you, with satisfying Mexican and Tex-Mex fare, and usually a good deal on a drink or two.