El Camino closed its doors last fall after nearly four years in Bloomingdale, but the neighborhood mainstay recently made a comeback with a new owner and revamped Mexican menu from a Salvadoran chef.
Owner Marvin Solorzano, who was an opening partner on Alero in Dupont Circle, has worked across a range of cuisines in D.C. He hired chef Rodolfo Martinez, who moved from El Salvador to D.C. in 1999 and has worked his way up in local kitchens.
At El Camino (108 Rhode Island Avenue NW), Martinez is making tacos ($2.50 to $3.50) filled with chicken tinga, carne asada, chorizo, and cactus. There are also ceviches and enchiladas, along with more Americanized staples like chimichangas and sizzling fajitas platters with veggies, skirt steak, and grilled shrimp.
A couple other items — like saltado, meat stir-fried with veggies and fries, and masitas de puerco, or fried pork chunks — represent Peruvian and Cuban cooking, respectively.
Since the restaurant reopened in late July, one popular order has been the flautas, rolled and fried corn tortillas stuffed with chicken or beef alongside guacamole, pico de gallo, and Mexican crema.
The pink-hued space, lined with candle-lit cathedral lights and laser-cut cinder blocks, largely looks the same. Minor changes included adding a neon green-lit glass partition near the bar that holds tequila bottles. Signage reading “mezcal lives here” also lines the bar.
Margaritas (classic, cucumber, watermelon) include a potent Cadillac version with hand-squeezed lime juice and a Grand Marnier topper ($12). A mojito section ($10) includes classic, strawberry, and mango varieties, all spiked with Bacardi Rum.
Classics get Mexican twists at El Camino, like a Mezcal Mule built with El Silencio and Old Fashioned subbing in Jimador Reposado for bourbon. Sweet-and-spicy frozen margaritas are filled with habanero mango or prickly pear cactus fruit.
Since El Camino was closed for nearly a year, most of its staff is completely new. Some bartenders also do double duty at 14th Street NW’s bustling Provision 14 bar.
Weekday happy hour specials (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) includes $4 Mexican beers, $6 margaritas and sangrias, and $7 Don Julio Silver or Stoli cocktails.
Nearby, Crisp Kitchen & Bar recently reopened as an Italian-themed adult playground dubbed Hopscotch.