El Camino’s brings Latin American street food flavours to brunch, and there’s no denying the boldness of the region, and their food. This is the kind of Sunday brunch that makes the night before a lot less painful. Not only are the dishes loaded with flavour, but they’re hearty and filling. The Brunch Buddy and I enjoyed our meal. Let me tell you why.
There’s something very homey about El Camino’s. I’m not sure if it’s the ambience, the location, or the service. I’m going to venture that it’s a little bit of everything. We had brunch on Sunday, a day when the city is traditionally a little slower, but brunch venues are busier. We arrived around eleven in the morning which guaranteed us a seat on the small patio. If you get to sit on this one, do so. There’s something special about Main Street, and having a great seat to watch the world pass by is a must. You get that at El Camino’s.
No sooner had we sat down, and there was water on our table and an offer of coffee. In a nutshell, the service was outstanding from start to finish. While I have to admit that there are a lot of great brunches in Vancouver, I can’t say I’ve always received great service. Sometimes the attentiveness is missing, and sometimes it’s something as simple as nary a smile, but not this morning. I felt instantly welcomed, never pushed, and always important. And you know what; every table on the patio received the same service. Yes, by the way, the coffee was good, a rich flavour that suited the region perfectly. I’m sure I had several cups. I wouldn’t know for sure because service was so good that I never saw the bottom of the cup until it was time to leave.
This was the second brunch in a row that I ordered the Pulled Pork Benedict. The flair of the Latin region gave this one a unique flavour. The pork was smokey and moist; the flavour of mild chilis evident in every bite. When you add in the smokiness of the hollandaise sauce and the deep flavour of the free range egg yolks oozing over the house-made corn bread, you have one gorgeous morning mouthful.
This dish isn’t about heat; it’s about so much more. If you want heat, then have no fear, the dish comes with pickled jalapenos, and potato wedges. If you want even more flavour, try the house-made hot sauce. It’s on every table, and it’s the best hot sauce I’ve had in a very long time. It put the sriracha you find at other restaurants to shame. It was smokey perfection with a mild acid hit.
My Brunch Buddy had the Huevos Divorciados; two over easy eggs on crisp corn tortillas, with black beans, monterey jack, salsa verde, salsa roja and hash browns. Her only comment was that it would have been nice if the tortilla was fried to order so the cheese would have melted better. The salsas are all house-made at El Camino’s and they add a lot of pop to over-easy eggs. It’s a satisfying way to start the day without meat on the plate.
The entire menu at El Camino’s is a temptation. I had a horrible time deciding what to order. Every time a plate went by I wanted to stick my fork in it to give it a try. I had to settle with taking pictures. I was amazed at how accommodating people were to that request. I think the level of friendliness from the staff ends up creating such a laid back atmosphere that everyone takes on the vibe.
As you can see, the dishes are colourful and tempting. The different scrambles are generous and filled with fresh ingredients–spicy shrimp, chorizo, or oyster mushrooms. Everything, from the Calentado to The Hangover, is made with respect for the ingredients. Much like the other Cascade Company restaurants, you can rest assured that your eggs are free range, the meats are locally and humanely raised, and the seafood is sustainably harvested.
This is a menu where you don’t want to stick with the dish you ordered last time because you’ll be missing out on a lot of other great meals. Try El Camino’s out. I think you’ll agree that there’s nothing like a little heat on your plate to spice up an otherwise slow Sunday.
Movie Recommendation: Romancing the Stone (1984). The Mexican landscape stars as Colombia in this kitschy classic that stars Kathleen Turner at the height of her career. And there’s some guy named Michael Douglas, too.
3250 Main St, Vancouver
Brunch Hours: 10 am to 2 pm, weekends only
Michelle Muldoon is a writer, filmmaker, and avid foodie. You can find her on twitter @chat2michelle.