Craving a new place for tacos? Then you should know the way to El Camino! El Camino Taqueria and Cantina in downtown Macon is the latest entry in the Moonhanger Group’s series of eateries and stands as their first foray into the Latino side of life.
El Camino is located at 382 2nd Street and you’ll know you’re there when you see the outdoor seating and a sandwich board with daily specials on it. Oh, and it also says “El Camino” in giant lettering, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding it.
When you first walk inside El Camino, you’ll be greeted by a car hood which has been painted to permanently celebrate Dia de los Muertos as well as a bar that runs down the left hand side of the restaurant. Although the interior of the restaurant is narrow, you don’t feel cramped because El Camino makes use of clever table arrangement to make the best of the space they have. The clientele is an eclectic mix of casual diners, young professionals, hipsters, and middle aged guests. I think I even saw a nun. So basically, anyone that’s hungry is welcome here.
The atmosphere at El Camino is more trendy than traditional. This is a sentiment echoed by the menu. However, this is definitely not a bad thing. Macon, and indeed the entire Middle Georgia area, is already blessed with many fine traditional Mexican restaurants. One of the first clues that El Camino is different is that you are not given complimentary chips and salsa. With that, let’s get to the food.
If you do want chips and salsa, it is $2.25 and comes with three types of sauce. In order of spice level, first up is the chunky pico de gallo. Next, you’re met with an earthy, red salsa, which would be the closest to what most people picture when they think of salsa. Finally, there is the salsa verde, the flavors of which will dance across your tongue to a tune which can only be inspired by the high notes of cilantro.
Besides appetizers and desserts, the menu also sports salads, wings, tortas and tacos. Tortas is fancy Spanish talk for sandwiches, and El Camino’s certainly do not disappoint. However, where El Camino really shines is their tacos.
The tacos run from $3.00 to $3.50 each and come with your choice of corn or flour tortillas. I chose three for a nice sampling. The Ranchero is a steak taco with cheese, pico de gallo, and a tasty cilantro chimichurri. The Laredo has pork, cheese, a delicious radish jalapeno slaw, and smoked tomato pasilla negro crema. That last topping was pulled straight from the menu and basically boils down to a semi-spicy sauce on the top.
The real star of the show was the Philly Taco – a Mexican/American fusion that is El Camino’s play on a Philly cheese steak and it was their daily special. El Camino combines grilled onions, shitake mushrooms, and poblano peppers rather than the green bell peppers normally found on a Philly. It is topped with your choice of pepper jack or Swiss cheese. The delicate corn tortillas had an incredibly satisfying texture, the steak itself was perfectly seasoned and seemed to melt in my mouth and the onions were grilled to a golden perfection. This is an item that you definitely don’t want to miss.
Another aspect of El Camino that is worth mentioning is the service. Our server was friendly and helpful. She struck the perfect balance between making sure we had everything we needed, yet not interfering too much. Her delightful attitude added to our enjoyment.
To sum up, El Camino is a unique spin on Mexican cuisine, delivering high quality ingredients and excellent flavor combinations that will be sure to satisfy. Their full menu can be viewed on their website.