Address: 15 N.E. Second Ave., Delray Beach // 561/865-5350
Photo via El Camino
The lowdown: If Mexican hipsters existed, this would be their place.
El Camino Mexican Soul Food & Tequila Bar, better known as El Camino, is the perfect mixture of rustic and hip. Its interior boasts exposed brick walls, lime green booth seating and hanging antique light bulbs.
It’s an intimate environment, a far cry from the party atmospheres of Rocco’s Tacos and the failed 101 Cantina in Boca. Much like a speakeasy, the drinks are carefully crafted with unexpected ingredients. Think barrel-aged rum, apple cider sangria and margaritas made with muddled cucumber, basil, alder smoked salt and black peppercorn.
Photo via El Camino
Happy hour at El Camino is one of the best I’ve seen in the area. It runs from 4 to 7 p.m. … every day. Get chips and salsa for $1, guacamole for $4, Coronas for $2 – among other sweet deals. There are also three specialty cocktails (which change regularly) available on the menu for just $5.
If you’re going for happy hour, make sure to get there early. Prices only apply to the bar and the booths directly facing the bar. It’s not the type of place you want to go with a big group of people, with booths fitting only four people comfortably or six quite snuggly. There’s also a late-night happy hour from midnight to 2 a.m., featuring 50 percent off all tequila, plus all the same drink specials from the regular happy hour. Food items are limited since the kitchen closes at 12 a.m.
The intangibles: Because El Camino is just as much a restaurant as it is a bar, the crowd ranges from families to girls on a night out. If you’re looking to just grab a few drinks and an appetizer, the bar is your spot. Bartenders are attentive – plus you get to watch them concoct your drink, all with fresh ingredients of course. El Camino prides itself on using fresh, organic and local products when it can. The restaurant even creates its tortillas and sauces in house from scratch.
Since it’s a relatively small establishment, it does get pretty busy during peak hours. Luckily, the staff accommodates to its customers. Last time I went to El Camino, the hostess took my number down and texted me when our table was ready – so we were free to roam around downtown while waiting.
Do note: El Camino has an open-air atmosphere. The transparent retractable sunscreens do nothing to shield customers seated on the outer perimeter of the restaurant. So unless you can find a spot closer to the interior, you’re better off waiting till sundown to come here.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily; kitchen open until midnight