First Impressions: El Camino Cantina – The Rocks (Sydney)

There have been some big changes over at Urban Purveyor Group as of late, particularly to their mega-venue The Argyle which has waved goodbye to acclaimed neighbour Ananas Bar & Brasserie while the French restaurant has made the leap over to a bigger space near Darling Harbour. To fill the void Ananas have left, Urban Purveyor Group have completely transformed the space for an elegant French restaurant into a neon-lit, slightly grungy Tex-Mex party bar and restaurant by the name of El Camino Cantina. It’s exciting, ostentatious, and flows seamlessly into the Argyle’s historic courtyard, bringing in a brand new perspective to the precinct.

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With an official launch party last week, El Camino was highlighted as a fiery entry into the lively Mexican dining scene which has seen a tightened grip on Sydney in the past few years. Inspired by the west coast flavours of Tex-Mex, the new venue is brimming with energy coloured by the various large murals, animated neon signs, and illuminated chips-and-salsa stations (which offer help-yourself free corn chips and salsa) in restored 1957 Chevy trunks.

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Those who love their spice will be happy to know that little is held back in some of the sauces used to coat menu items like soft, tender chicken wings. There’s also the expected onslaught of tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, nachos, enchiladas, and burritos constantly pumped out by a semi-open kitchen. Much like the decor, food isn’t modest by any means, and items like the Ghost Chilli BBQ Burger and desserts like the Spiced Dark Chocolate Pudding are poised to become fast favourites among visitors.

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El Camino Cocktails; image supplied

Freshly shaken and frozen Margaritas line the bar here alongside Mexican and house-brewed craft beers and specialty cocktails named after classic rock songs. A collection of over 200 Tequilas and Mescals give the bar a little bit of extra colour, as do the carafes of Sangria that are constantly being pumped out from fast-paced and nimble bartenders. Indeed, this is a much different scene then the patient atmosphere of Ananas, almost as if it’s purposely been flipped on it’s head to better complement the energetic vibe at The Argyle.

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There’s even a more noticeable physical connection between The Argyle and El Camino Cantina as the new lounge area, titled The 27 Club spilled onto a terrace that’s part of the cobblestone courtyard.

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No doubt this Tex-Mex spot will continue to grow in the coming weeks with the team behind it planning to round out the atmosphere with live mariachi bands (every evening from 5pm for the first two weeks then every Tues, Fri, and Sat thereafter), a revolving line up of DJs playing rock every Friday and Saturday night, and a program of daily specials in Margarita Mondays, Taco & Tequila Tuesdays, and Fajita Fridays.

El Camino Cantina

Address: 18 Argyle Street, The Rocks
Contact: 02 9259 5668
Website: elcaminocantina.com.au