El Camino Cantina is in every sense larger than life – the 80’s rock tunes, cactus-shaped neon strips, bowl-sized margaritas and bottomless chips and salsa make the Tex-Mex bar an unashamedly vibrant hub amongst the typically demure Rocks in Sydney.
Just one rule applies to punters at El Camino Cantina: save water, drink tequila – and with over 100 types of tequila, the venue has made sure there is plenty to keep you going.
El Camino Cantina burst onto the scene in 2016 when Rockpool Dining Group wanted to extend their cluster of venues on the historic Argyle Street. Tucked in beside the Argyle, El Camino’s entrance is definitely not discrete, with glowing red neon signs and a life-size, patterned caricature of a horse welcoming inquisitive punters.
Once over the threshold, American vintage guitars, glittering sombreros, Christian crosses and Mexican car plates greet you as they adorn each wall and create an initially overwhelmingly yet playful vibe. Following in Rockpool Dining Group’s unmatched ability to replicate a myriad of diverse cultures, El Camino expertly exudes the loud and energetic persona that makes Mexico such a vibrant, loveable country.
El Camino perfects the cultural Tex-Mex fusion, with occasional visits from a mariachi band, a mix of authentic vintage décor that looks as if from a Wild West flick and an endless stream of 80’s rock and pop hits.
So, let’s start with what’s on all our minds: tequila.
El Camino’s legendary tequila menu includes six categories: blanco (white or clear tequila), reposado (slightly aged, gold-coloured tequila), anejo (3-year aged tequila), extra anejo (smokier, fuller tequila), mezcal (made with a variety of agave plants) and perhaps the easiest to drink, the flavoured tequilas. For those agave juice connoisseurs, the menu is further divided into regions: the Tequila Valley, the Highlands or Guadalajara. For those not so keen on straight tequila, El Camino’s generously-sized frozen margaritas are go-to: a 700ml margarita will set you back just $23. Sticking to the Mexican theme, sangria, cerveza, Corona’s, Dos Equis and Pacifico are available for those few afraid of tequila’s effects.
Accompanying this legendary drinks menu is an equally ambitious all-day Mexican dining menu featuring chargrilled fajitas with a choice of confit portobello, adobo spiced chicken, lime and pepper Angus steak and intriguingly, chipotle barbecue kangaroo. This fusion of a Mexican classic and Australian produce is an ultimate match and is a definite highlight of this otherwise traditional menu.
For bigger groups, the Cadillac Platter is a must, with supremely spicy buffalo wings, cheeseburger tacos, chicken quesadillas, guacamole and so much more. Befitting of any Mexican eatery, El Camino serves up arguably the best churros in the city – with salted caramel sauce for just $2 each.
El Camino’s staff are unsurprisingly attentive, professional and friendly – and are deserving of extra thanks for their superhuman ability to carry up to four top-heavy 700ml margaritas at once without spilling a drop.
This bar is more than just a one-of-a-kind space – each visit is an immersive experience and will leave you in a haze of blaring neon, mismatched retro furniture and nostalgic tunes. We can guarantee El Camino will have you craving the hearty flavours of Mexican cuisine and the unmistakable woody aftertaste of quality tequila.
El Camino Cantina is a rare venue that will make you feel as if you stepped into a broken time-machine which accidentally yet masterfully mixed 1950’s retro glam with a rugged, Tex-Mex landscape to create a surprisingly intriguing and energetic space in the heart of Sydney. The music is nostalgia-inducing, loud and unfailingly catchy, the food is spicy, diverse and reflective of Tex-Mex fusion, the decor is plentiful and intense yet creates an unforgettable atmosphere but most importantly, the tequila does its job.
El Camino Cantina
Address: 18 Argyle Street, The Rocks
Trading hours: 12pm-12am Monday to Thursday, 12pm-1am Friday and Saturday, 12am-10pm Sunday
Contact: 9259 5668 or visit website to book
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(Featured Image: El Camino Cantina, Kai Leishman)