The idea behind El Camino's design sounds a little wacky on paper, but makes sense after walking into the space. Tony Lucca describes the space, designed by Edit Lab at StreetSense's Brian Miller and Lauren Winter, as what happens when an 80-year-old Mexican grandmother and a 20-something Chicano from Los Angeles share the same apartment.
"The Chicano culture is very arts focused, very music focused, and that's one thing we wanted to capture," Lucca said. "They [at Edit] took our concept and just blew it up — in a good way."
That meant touches like decorative concrete blocks, and some subtle touches that evoke the El Camino car for which the restaurant is named, including rims as table bases and crushed velvet seating. On the "grandma" side, there is a mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe painted by a local artists, and antique dishware collected for the restaurant by the owner of Something Vintage rentals. Colors are a main focus, though Lucca tried to shy away from being too over the top. "We didn't want to be forcing [the theme] down people's throats," he said. There is seating for between 40 and 50 people; a patio will come in the spring.
Like the design, El Camino's menu will draw from both traditional Mexican cuisine and Southern California's style. Expect several tacos, Mexican meatballs, a soup of the day and a fish of the day, and some full-sized entrees. "I think everyone at this point has small plates trauma," Lucca joked. They're still developing the menu to see which dishes work in the small, 1,500 square foot space.
Lucca, who runs 1905 Restaurant and is opening the restaurant with partner Phil Rodriguez (Sticky Rice), hesitates to commit to an opening date for the restaurant; expect to see it in the first or second week of November. "It's been a three year project; I'm not going to open a few days early and put out a product I'm not happy with," he said.
108 Rhode Island Ave. NW