My friend Melissa has been super gracious to stay at our place while we've travelled to Punta Cana and Las Vegas recently, and so instead of having her over for dinner to thank her, this time we decided to go out.
I have been to El Camino many times, it's safe to say it's in my top five, but it was still on her bucket list. So, off we went to chow down on tacos and amazing deep fried goodness.
The hipster taco bar is located in downtown Ottawa and has quickly gained popularity for it's phenomenal tacos and fresh made margaritas. The wait time is often over an hour, but worth it in my opinion, to at least try it. Since we were meeting after work, we didn't have to wait but despite it being only 5:30pm on a Thursday, the place was already buzzing.
We sat down and got straight to business both ordering our fave local organic beer (Mill St). I love me some tequila but it's hard to beat tacos and beer for me.
The restaurant has a very urban, industrial feel to it with servers wearing their own clothes and often rocking tats, and the high, exposed ceilings and open kitchen make the space feel super open. It's laid back, casual but also really cool and current.
We started off with the salt & pepper squid which is seriously to die for. I get this every time and no jokeMarco was so jealous I was going without him as he's been craving this for weeks.
If you like calamari, this is a must-try on the menu. Served with a fish sauce swirled with jalapeños, cilantro and red chillis.
Next up, the prawn betel leaf which were basically deep fried shrimp with random deliciousness inside with a strong flavour of anise. Really good but in all honesty, the squid beats this ten fold.
Another round for the ladies at the bar! And then our tacos arrived....
After taking our time with the small plates and laughing and chatting, we finally got down to business with the real deal: tacos. Normally I like to order three, but with two appetizers and drinks, I was already getting full so we each went with two.
From left to right: ox tongue, pork & lamb x 2
The pork is amazing, juicy, shredded pulled pork with avocado, cilantro, radishes and an amazing secret non-saucy sauce. I like to drizzle hot sauce on it to amp up the heat. That said, the lamb takes the cake for me--it just can't be beat (and I've tried all five meat variations of their tacos: lamb, pork, beef, ox tongue & fish). If you like lamb, you'll love this version, similar in toppings to the pork with that sweet lamb taste.
Melissa went brave and tried the ox tongue--not for the faint of heart, but quite scrumptious if you can get past the idea of it being what it is--and loved it. That said, she too agreed the lamb was the bomb diggity.
We left with full bellies and smiles on our faces, ready to walk off the dinner. Both stuffed, we decided we didn't need nor want dessert, that is, until we stumbled upon Pure Gelato down the street.
Now I'm no stranger to this place either, but again she had never been so I made it my personal mission to cross as many items off that bucket list as possible!
Pure Gelato is pretty much Gelato heaven with a sizeable crepery within. I myself always go for the gelato but the crepes smell amazing--plus the huge tubs of Nutella are pretty tempting.
When I was debating between Skor peanut butter and peanut butter crunch, this girl made it clear that Skor was the only option. I topped it off with a scoop of cookie dough and we went on our merry way.
Hope you enjoyed this new type of blog post, I thought it would be fun to share various experiences around the city, including eating out and such. If there is anything you would like see, don't be shy, leave a comment below.
Happy Friday & 4th of July to all my American friends + readers!