First Look: El Camino Inn

Shelley Mann, Columbus Alive

No detail goes overlooked at El Camino Inn, the latest in an increasingly fun group of restaurants run by Randy and Tina Corbin (of Club 185, Rossi and Little Palace fame). As a decor/design nerd, I love when people pay attention to the little things. Like, here the menu is painstakingly posted on a vintage Pepsi-branded lightbox similar to one you might remember from childhood pizzerias. And the comfy swivel chairs are clad in '70s-era leather.

So in that aspect, El Camino has quickly vaulted to one of my favorite hangout spots. I can see myself perching at the bar for hours, sipping on margaritas and downing chips with simple taqueria-style guac. (Now, if they could boost the A/C a bit, that would facilitate much longer hangout sessions).

I just wish they could pay as much attention to the food as the decor here. I know, the food's not really the point. It's meant to accompany lots of beer (the stripped-down list of Mexican brews is a throwback, too), and it's dirt cheap. Tacos start at just $2, and for that price, I'm not expecting much. It's just that in the wake of the taco-truck revolution, bland and watered-down chorizo doesn't cut it. Go for the carnitas instead and stick to a basic taco--this "especial" version is topped with unnecessary extras like shredded iceberg and mayo.

Here's a gordita with barbacoa, refried beans and all those other add-ons, served on a nice puffy shell.

Love the logo.

And here's one of the cheap and good margaritas.

I'm giving El Camino the benefit of the doubt, based on its pedigree and keeping in mind how good and cheap the grub is next door at Little Palace. I'll just cross my fingers and hope the quality of food will continue to inch upwards.

El Camino Inn

238 S. Fourth St., Downtown