Mighty Margaritas at El Camino Real

Mighty Margaritas at El Camino Real
El Camino Real is a genuine Tex-Mex watering hole, smack in the middle of Northern Liberties. Situated on Liberties Walk just off Second Street, the bar sits directly across from the popular Piazza at Schmidts. Texas lone stars adorn the walls, and sombrero-wearing donkeys are staggered throughout the large, wood-clad interior.

Daily 5–7 PM happy hour features half-price house margaritas – a perfect blend of tequila, ice, triple sec and lime juice. At $2.50 per glass or  $10 per pitcher, its a deal that can’t be beat. Fruit margaritas (normally $6) are also offered at half price. On Sunday–Thursday, there’s also a late night happy hour: from 10 PM–midnight the house margarita is half off, and so is a rotating list of draft beers.

My recent visit started with a passion fruit margarita, a sweet drink with a noticeable tequila bite at the end. It was cold and refreshing, and my only gripe was the portion. There was too much foam and not enough liquid to relieve my mouth after a plate of delicious, but very spicy, pig wings. I suggest spending the extra $1.50 to have your margarita served straight up or on the rocks if you are looking for a big drink.

Next I tried the jalapeño margarita, a drink unique to El Camino Real. Served on the rocks, this potent potion contains a generous amount of Cazadores Reposado, fresh jalapeño and lime juice. If you love spice, this is definitely the margarita for you. The seeds from the pepper surface with each sip, sparking the taste buds with a jolt of heat. It is definitely worth the $9 price tag – just be sure to have a full glass of water nearby.

In addition to the margarita menu, El Camino Real offers a wide selection of beverages, ranging from homemade sangria to a specialty spiked root beer. A fair amount of Mexican beers, including Tecate and Negra Modelo, are also available. The tequila menu is truly impressive, offering everything from Jose Cuervo ($5) to 1942 Don Julio ($20).

The firey food was exactly what you expect from a cantina: spicy, messy and delicious. The menu is split into two sections: Mexico and Texas. I tried “The Chronic” sandwich (pulled pork, mac ‘n’ cheese, bacon bread crumbs; $12) from Texas and the chicken quesadillas (smoked chicken, black beans, tomatoes, chipotle crema, fresh jalapeño, cheese, lettuce; $9) from Mexico.

So if you’re looking for a little Western fun, you’re in luck. Head over to El Camino Real for a little slice of both Texas and Mexico (Texico? Mexas?) without ever leaving Philly.
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