EL CAMINO CANTINA
El Camino Cantina is bringing a bespoke Tex-Mex experience to Byron Bay at midday on Thursday, 25 April, when it opens for business in the new retail, dining and entertainment precinct, Mercato on Byron.
A four-day launch weekend from Thursday, 25 April to Sunday, 28 April features all-day, $2 tacos and happy hour from 4pm to 6pm each day. El Camino’s famous margaritas are served frozen or on the rocks, and in a rainbow of flavours: classic, strawberry, mango and tropical Red Bull. Guests can indulge in complimentary, refillable baskets of tortilla chips and salsas, served from converted Chevvy trunks, as they buckle in for a festive, music-fuelled Tex-Mex ride.
El Camino Cantina will donate $1 from every full-price margarita sold over the four-day launch weekend to the Byron Bay Community Benefit Fund, with the donation supporting the Community Showers Project and the provision of hot showers and related services to the homeless. Over the launch period, customers will go into a draw to win one of 25, limited-edition, signed, screen prints by Australian punk music and surf art icon Ben Brown, who has created El Camino Cantina’s floor-to-ceiling mural of board short and bikini-clad skeletons surfing The Pass, which is an eye-catching feature of the restaurant.
Located on Level 1 of Mercato on Bryon, El Camino Cantina has created 40 full-time and casual positions and has supported the local economy by engaging around 30 professionals and tradespeople on the project.
The creator of the El Camino Cantina concept, Texan and Rockpool Dining Group Chief Executive Officer Thomas Pash, said there was an exciting food scene in and around Byron Bay, to which El Camino Cantina would contribute a unique, value-driven, dining experience.
“We are humbled to be opening in the iconic destination of Byron Bay with its exciting and burgeoning food scene,” Mr Pash said. “We’re committed to working with the local community via our charitable endeavours and are proud to offer excellent career development opportunities, including training programs that prepare employees to lead our restaurant and kitchen teams, both locally and interstate.”
El Camino Cantina is unashamedly Tex-Mex, which is short for Texan-Mexican and distinct from true Mexican cuisine. Humming with trademark, cool tunes and colourful sombreros, the eclectic cantina accommodates 250 diners, including 130 seated on a spacious balcony overlooking Jonson Street, where customers can enjoy Byron’s balmy ambience.
A value-packed, crowd-pleasing menu caters to vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diners. Tortillas are house-made daily and complimentary, bottomless chips and salsas are available all day.
Signature dishes include a selection of soft-shell tacos stuffed with seven flavour combinations, including mushrooms with chipotle coleslaw, yoghurt and scallions, and beer-battered barramundi doused with green mango salsa and jalapeno aioli. All tacos can be upgraded to Cadillac versions with the addition of Mexican rice and refried beans on the side.
Nachos are served with chilli con carne or vegetarian chilli, and a loaded version is topped with melted cheese, black beans, chilli con carne, smoked BBQ brisket, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole. Sizzling, chargrilled fajitas come with a choice of six fillings, including confit portobello, and hickory-smoked BBQ brisket, which is slow-braised in smoke-mix and hickory marinade for six hours.
A trio of big-hitting burritos are stuffed with chipotle chicken, brisket and queso, or black bean and vegetables. For a healthier burrito option, the naked burrito bursts with avocado, salsa fresca, red cabbage, cucumber, Spanish onion, beans, corn, tortilla crisps and ume coriander dressing from an iceberg lettuce bowl. Add a protein boost with the inclusion of adobe-spiced chicken breast, Angus beef or prawns.
Other must-try dishes include crisp quesadillas, hot buffalo wings, jalapeno poppers and queso blanco, which can be topped with chilli con carne, salsa fresca or pickled jalapenos.
El Camino Cantina’s unmissable daily deals include happy hour every week-day from 4pm to 6pm, $2 taco Tuesdays, 10-cent buffalo wings every Wednesday, half-price fajitas on Thursdays, and a $15 burrito and beer week-day lunch special.
The quintessential Tex-Mex experience extends to the drink menu, which heroes El Camino Cantina’s signature, machine-blended margaritas. A new, limited-edition rita is unveiled each month. Beer lovers can cruise through a selection of Australian craft and flagship Mexican draught and bottled cervezas.
A fusion of urban chic and coastal cool, El Camino Cantina evokes a sense of playfulness. Walls are a visual feast of bright, custom-made artwork and bold rock posters by artist Ben Brown, colourful calavera and other quirky touches, which fuse with accents of rustic Mexican haciendas, including weathered wood and reclaimed timbers, earthy tones, and decorative tiles. Large-screen TVs play music videos and entertainment.
El Camino is perfect for budget-friendly, week-day meal deals; casual, barefoot n’ beachy sundowner sessions with frozen margaritas and shared dishes; sombrero-splashed group celebrations with set menus; and super-chilled, lazy, weekend brunches. Seating is a mix of high-top tables and stools, lower dining tables, and booths – perfect for pairs of diners, small parties, and large group events and celebrations.