After all the heavy duty meals on Vancouver Island, we decided out first night in Vancouver would be at EL CAMINO(www.elcaminos.ca), a truly noisy, tiny hip joint on Main Street just south of downtown. We arrived and Tanya immediately brought out some lime salted popcorn which was gone in seconds. Monday is Margarita Monday and they are $5.00 apiece, so Will and I indulged as the wine list here is mostly South American/Spanish/Latin and we needed a change.
EL CAMINO has tapas style plates and we ordered a bunch:
CHICKPEA FRITAS are blow your mind long ground chickpea fries with a Smoked Paprika Aioli that would make you give up french fries forever.
Samuel chose the CARNITAS-slow roasted pulled pork soft tacos served on cute little wooden boards with pickled vegetable escabeche (which we asked for on the side, so we could eat it-it was a slaw of fennel, cabbage and jalapeno!) queso blanco and of course, an order of papas fritas. The Carnitas were such a hit, he ordered a second portion!
Will and I noticed these special "shot" drinks and inquired of Tanya (she was oh so informative) and I ordered up an INFIERNO-chilled jalapeno infused tequila shot with a sangrita (tomato,lime,corn juice) chaser and Will chose the EL TIGRE-ice cold tequila blanco shot with verdita (mint,cilantro,jalapeno, pineapple) chaser. These were fun and tasty (although I preferred to savor and sip my jalapeno tequila) and Tanya said if we wanted more Margaritas we should try the $5 special JALAPENO MARGARITA which used the same infused tequila and had a chili-lime-salt rim on the glass--OMG....we had a couple of these. EACH.
The small room is made of exposed concrete block and one wall has the phrase "Nada como una revolucion, para curar la sed y el hambre...." and we asked Samuel for some assistance as I did not know that sed & hambre were thirst and hunger...hence, nothing is like a revolution to cure thirst and hunger...." We were really proud of him as he had volunteered translation assistance for the first time without us begging.
There were so many food options, but we trusted Tanya and started with the COCONUT MUSSELS (from nearby Salt Spring Island) with smoked chili-fresh herbs and onion in a sauce that even Sam begged to mop up with the large pieces of accompanying grill bread.
A huge ARUGULA SALAD came with Quinoa, Beets, Popped Pepitas, Feta and a divine Cumin Vinaigrette that I want to bottle and sell.
We moved on to our final two large, yet still tapas-style, plates of tasty melt-in-your-mouth CERVEZA BRAISED SHORT RIBS with Onion Gravy, and the OMG oh-so-decadent Columbian PAPAS CHOREADAS which are potatoes smothered with cream, cheese, tomato and onion.
The CARNE ASADA TACOS were also a treat with tender grilled flat iron steak pieces, horseradish jack and Guasacaca. This latter dish (and yes, I know the name is not attractive) is a Venezuelan Guacamole with cilantro and lime and the apparent secret ingredient of green pepper. Who knew?
As always, Will insisted on ordering dessert and I had one forkful of the tasty Pastel de TRES LECHES crusted with Pecan Praline (our friends Mel & Juan would ove this southern and Latino marriage of food!).
Tany must have been worried that we ordered the wrong dessert or perhaps we were too thin (is she blind?) and sent out a dish of her favorite dessert, the FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE with Coconut Gelato and Chocolate Ganache(I seem to recall this was deep friend, but my notes may be misleading), which I must admit was spectacular