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—Photo by Sarah Boyum

Eat Cheap: El Camino

Fair Warning: El Camino’s spirited vibe and affordable eats can be habit-forming. 

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Visit Highland’s El Camino Community Tavern enough times, and you’ll meet any number of people who, after a few sips of the house margarita, wonder aloud why they’re just discovering the five-year-old spot. It happened to me.

Though my crush on El Camino began with a margarita paired with a “sope”—a CD-size masa cake mounded with refried beans, tender carnitas, crisp lettuce, tangy pickled radishes, and charred salsa—it was the elote (street corn) that turned my fondness into devotion. This simple, traditional Mexican street food staple consists of a grilled ear of corn coated in butter, lime juice, chili powder, and Cotija cheese with a garnish of finely chopped cilantro. The combination yields a messy, savory appetizer that demands many napkins and a pint of El Camino’s signature Liger, a lime-steeped Mexican lager crafted by Denver’s Prost Brewing but infused in-house.

When you end up at El Camino with an appetite for more than small bites and smothered corn cobs, nab a plate of tacos. The tempeh variety is my go-to: three flour tortillas filled with piquant grilled tempeh and garnished with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and your choice of side. (Try the crunchy and zesty jicama slaw.) As with the sopes—which are just $5, and $4 during happy hour—the final touch is a dousing of one of El Camino’s salsas.

The daily happy hours (3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight) are convenient excuses to taste the margaritas and full-flavored snacks for the first time. You’ll be back.

Our Favorites

Elote $4

Sope $5/$4*

Green Chile Nachos $10/$5*

Tempeh Tacos $9

Tamales $10

*Happy hour prices

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