The ingredients that comprise a good brunch seem so simple, yet somehow it’s something so many restaurants fail to master.
To this little Bitch, the requirements are: delicious food, a bottomless deal, a patio, a cool, unique ambiance, and service that’s good but leaves me the hell alone. Far too often, someone notices the camera and in they swoop, and I can’t finish a sentence about my latest bad date without being interrupted by an overly zealous waiter.
Speaking of the camera, a restaurant gets bonus points if the food is Insta-worthy, but without trying too hard. Am I right?
Enter: El Camino, a Mexican spot right on Rhode Island in Bloomingdale. I’d heard of it—and I’ve brunched at neighboring Boundary Stone several times. After a recent friend put it back on my radar, I gathered the girl squad and off we went. It was a beautiful fall day and the patio was buzzing. As I arrived late, the girls had already set up shop inside, in the air conditioning, in the relatively empty restaurant. This ended up being perfect, as half way through the meal I was standing on my chair to get the perfect overhead Insta shot.
We began with coffees—the iced coffees come served in beer glasses and the hot coffees come in a cup and saucer of darling mismatched china, which seems to be a trend with El Camino. We ordered mimosas, which are available for $6 a pop or $14 for bottomless. The frothy, fresh, and bubbly ‘mosas are served in low tumblers and are absolutely top notch. Also on the menu are Bloody Marias, which were spicy and delish, and Micheladas.
We ordered in the way we usually do–we all verbalized our must-have dishes, made a list, and then I rattled it off to the waiter. On this occasion, our group of five ordered nearly everything on the menu.
Let’s begin with the less exciting dishes ordered by Tristin and Ashley: the omelet and the breakfast burrito. Tristin ordered the egg white omelet, which was filled with shiitake mushrooms, cotija cheese, salsa roja, salsa verde, and served with a side of country potatoes. The dish is both gluten-free and vegetarian, which is worth noting for those among us with dietary restrictions. It was clean, fresh and well-executed, as the eggs were fluffy and moist. Plus, who doesn’t like an omelet filled with cheese, salsa, and mushrooms?
Ashley, our token vegetarian, requested the breakfast burrito, sans chorizo. It was similarly healthy—so many of us eschewed this dish for the other skillets of fried, cheesy deliciousness that continued to arrive at our table. The omelet was rather large: a thin, flour tortilla tightly rolled and filled with scrambled eggs, chilies, black beans, potatoes, wild mushrooms, and Queso Chihuahua. You can get that chorizo for an additional two dollars.
The best things about Mexican brunches (see ourEspita Mezcaleria review here) are the delicious things that come in skillets, including but not limited to: Migas, chilaquilies, and huevos divorciados. We ordered all three.
Migas are usually my favorite as I love chorizo and scrambled eggs. These were scrambled with onions, peppers, queso fresco, chorizo, pico de gallo, tortilla chips, and tortilla. There was a lot of tortilla, but not a lot of chorizo, much to my dismay. The dish was packed with flavor and dripping with cheese.
The huevos divorciados were incredible. Two fried eggs, perched atop crisped corn tortillas—one topped with salsa roja, one with salsa verde. They were served with black beans, queso fresco and crema, so you could dip and slather what you’d like onto your crispy crunch flavorful egg-tortilla combo. Hell yes. We also appreciated the sides of fruit—cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple—served alongside many of the dishes, despite the fact we loathe honeydew.
The chilaquiles were equal parts hearty, delicious, and pretty. The dense skillet was filled with tortillas, queso Chihuahua, caramelized onions, and salsa, then topped with beautifully fried eggs and salsa roja.
After our course of delicious skillets, it was time for our course of delicious carbs. We followed the mandatory Bitch rule of always ordering doughnuts. In this instance, the dish del día was the cinnamon and sugar Buñuelos, i.e. bite-sized doughnut holes with Mexican chocolate syrup for dipping. This is a must-order addition to any brunch order: they’re shareable, they’re bite sized and they’re delicious. Who the heck doesn’t love doughnut holes?
We ordered both the French toast and the pancakes, because we’re adults and we can make our own choices. Both were served with sides of whipped cream and syrup, which I really prefer because it prevents the dish from becoming soggy and you can slather and dip when and how you see fit.
The cornmeal pancakes were super thin and topped with a pineapple compote. They were pretty good, but we were honestly so full by the time we got around to this dish we didn’t give them the proper attention they deserved. Ashley did appreciate the depth and breadth of the vegetarian options available at El Camino.
We paid good attention to the Horchata French toast, with bread soaked in Horchata topped with bananas marinated in orange juice and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Similarly dense, moist, and thin, the French toast was flavorful and utterly delectable when slathered with the house-made sweet whipped cream and drizzled with maple syrup.
The Bitches say: A. A no-frills, chill place with epic Mexican, good drinks and warm, relaxed service. Brunch goals, met.
El Camino serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
108 Rhode Island Ave. N.W.