El Camino Community Tavern
3628 W. 32nd Avenue at Lowell
Last weekend, we became part of a new community – and it was delicious. While walking around the historic Highlands neighborhood, we discovered a restaurant that puts extra effort into everything they do. It’s as appropriate for a gathering with friends as it is for a well-deserved grown-up date or a casual lunch with the kids. I love the use of the word “Community” at El Camino Community Tavern. It isn’t just a casual place to go – they are committed to being responsible to and for their guests, much like someone welcoming you into their home.
The space is small and narrow enabling people to get pretty close to each other but not so close that you become part of each other’s conversations. The décor is funky and lighthearted, especially now when it is also decorated for the holidays. (Notice the huge mirror and what the front of the bar is made of.) The staff is friendly, they recycle, grow herbs on their rooftop garden, source locally and are 100% wind-powered. What a great example to us all!
Small additions make all the difference with the food. The Grandes Nachos ($7.95) had layers of refries, jalapenos, carnitas (we had a choice of meats) , cheese and salsa with a touch of pineapple for a sweet counter to the heat. The Smuggler’s Burrito ($8.95), was a giant of a thing filled with grilled potatoes along with the usual beans, rice, and choice of veggies, beef, carnitas, chicken or as a breakfast burrito, all smothered with pork green chili and cheese. Sopapillas ($4.95) had whipped cream, fresh strawberries, raspberries and scoops of homemade strawberry and chocolate ice cream.
Next time, we’ll try the Mollettes ($7.95), part of the weekend brunch with a baguette spread with refried beans, layered with manchego cheese, pico de gallo, roasted jalapeno salsa, served with scrambled eggs. Or a big bowl of Aztec Soup ($6.95) – chicken, tomato, onion, avocado, queso fresco and tortilla chips.
Although there’s always a kids menu available, I wouldn’t recommend taking the kiddos to El Camino Tavern at night. Then, the adults rule, but for lunch or brunch, the clambering of the kids will blend right in with the lively adult conversation and excellent live music. For around $5, kids can have a quesadilla, flautas, bowl of rice, beans, meat or chicken, a burrito or a PB&J tortilla. Plus, the place is great for games of I Spy.
Even if you don’t live in the Highlands, El Camino Tavern lets us all become part of the community, if only for as long as it takes to polish off a great meal.