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Here's the Deal: El Camino

Place

El Camino

2400 India Street, San Diego

Wednesdays are jazz-jam night at Little Italy’s El Camino (formerly Airport Lounge), presented by legendary local trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos. Affable foot-tappers get loose over margaritas and sangria ($5) at tables inscribed with tarot archetypes. Girls, which my friend Lauren describes as “rockabilly paper dolls,” and guys in glasses, pencil ties, and newsie caps bob heads coolly amid the Virgen de Guadalupe candles and campy Mexican folk art. Bartender Rich slides me a tall can of Tecate ($4) beneath a hanging row of porcine lamps. Luchador detective films play on a big screen and on square-inch TVs embedded in the bar, where guest musicians nurse martinis, waiting for their turn to wail.

“The whole purpose of running the jam session for me is a community service, actually, to let people come out and share the stage with musicians in my group and, hopefully, to inspire the musicians of a younger generation to continue playing jazz,” Castellanos told “Blurt” contributor Dave Good in February.

The restaurant was opened last December as an extension of El Camino’s South Park location. “It’s really an organic restaurant done Mexican style,” says head hostess Alexa Parashos. “A lot of people who come here are looking specifically for organic or vegetarian food, and we like to cater to them. It’s really rare to find a place that can offer specialty food like [ours] and follow through 100 percent.”

Out back, a dia de los muertos skeleton cackles from the stained softwood wall. A few tables of patrons smoke and talk over the energetic Latin jams from inside. Conversation gets louder or stops altogether as jumbo jets roar over the open-air patio. The fully stocked back bar, bustling on busy weekend nights, is closed for the mellow Wednesday crowd. Lauren and I drink house sangria (the taste of which she pegs as “Mexican Christmas”) at a countertop decorated with Mexican pulp-noir imagery of thick-lipped vixens and quixotic caballeros.

The hombres’ room continues the theme with street-style stencils, running pastel-paint splotches, and a portrait in the loo reading, “¿Que honda, güey?”
Chad Deal

Attire: Fiesta casual
Prices: Beer, $4-6 (michelada add $1); wine, $5-9; sangria and margaritas, $5/20 pitcher
Food: Organic, local, free-range Mexican dishes
Happy Hour: Mon–Fri, 5–7 p.m.
Capacity: 450
Hours: Opens at 5 p.m. daily; 10 a.m. brunch Sundays
Best deal: Taco Tuesday 1/2 off tacos and $3 Coronas; $1 mimosas Sundays

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Place

El Camino

2400 India Street, San Diego

Wednesdays are jazz-jam night at Little Italy’s El Camino (formerly Airport Lounge), presented by legendary local trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos. Affable foot-tappers get loose over margaritas and sangria ($5) at tables inscribed with tarot archetypes. Girls, which my friend Lauren describes as “rockabilly paper dolls,” and guys in glasses, pencil ties, and newsie caps bob heads coolly amid the Virgen de Guadalupe candles and campy Mexican folk art. Bartender Rich slides me a tall can of Tecate ($4) beneath a hanging row of porcine lamps. Luchador detective films play on a big screen and on square-inch TVs embedded in the bar, where guest musicians nurse martinis, waiting for their turn to wail.

“The whole purpose of running the jam session for me is a community service, actually, to let people come out and share the stage with musicians in my group and, hopefully, to inspire the musicians of a younger generation to continue playing jazz,” Castellanos told “Blurt” contributor Dave Good in February.

The restaurant was opened last December as an extension of El Camino’s South Park location. “It’s really an organic restaurant done Mexican style,” says head hostess Alexa Parashos. “A lot of people who come here are looking specifically for organic or vegetarian food, and we like to cater to them. It’s really rare to find a place that can offer specialty food like [ours] and follow through 100 percent.”

Out back, a dia de los muertos skeleton cackles from the stained softwood wall. A few tables of patrons smoke and talk over the energetic Latin jams from inside. Conversation gets louder or stops altogether as jumbo jets roar over the open-air patio. The fully stocked back bar, bustling on busy weekend nights, is closed for the mellow Wednesday crowd. Lauren and I drink house sangria (the taste of which she pegs as “Mexican Christmas”) at a countertop decorated with Mexican pulp-noir imagery of thick-lipped vixens and quixotic caballeros.

The hombres’ room continues the theme with street-style stencils, running pastel-paint splotches, and a portrait in the loo reading, “¿Que honda, güey?”
Chad Deal

Attire: Fiesta casual
Prices: Beer, $4-6 (michelada add $1); wine, $5-9; sangria and margaritas, $5/20 pitcher
Food: Organic, local, free-range Mexican dishes
Happy Hour: Mon–Fri, 5–7 p.m.
Capacity: 450
Hours: Opens at 5 p.m. daily; 10 a.m. brunch Sundays
Best deal: Taco Tuesday 1/2 off tacos and $3 Coronas; $1 mimosas Sundays

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Comments
6

This place looks cool and I need to check it out.

June 16, 2010

"honda" is misspelled. It should be "onda". Pinche pochos.

June 16, 2010

Noticed that... Love the expression. What wave? What vibe? Also, the Colombian greeting, "Que mas?"

June 17, 2010

I, too, enjoy hearing that sort of street slang bantered among men. :) Had not heard of the Columbian expression. What more? Really interesting, could be either exasperation or eagerness.

June 17, 2010

Good job Chad! Looove that place

July 20, 2010

This place has amazing food! And great atmosphere. I'll definitely be back for happy hour with my buddies.

Oct. 18, 2010

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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