Elgin Street's El Camino is opening a Clarence Street location. Parisa Vafaie, Centretown News

Taco spot expands to Market

By Michael MacKinnon

El Camino, a popular taco restaurant on Elgin Street, is opening a second location in the ByWard Market on Clarence Street.

The location is opening up where Stella Osteria was previously located.

El Camino is owned by one of city’s top chefs, Matthew Carmichael.

The new El Camino will be Carmichael’s fourth restaurant in Ottawa, but his first in the Market.

One of Ottawa’s top Mexican restaurants, El Camino has been dishing out delicious meals since its opening in 2013.

Peering through the window at El Camino’s new location reveals the pieces of a restaurant coming together. “They’re aiming for the same style, the same feel,” said Tam Anafua, general manager at El Camino.

The new restaurant is going to stay true to its older sibling, and will look, taste, sound, and feel the same. With the same dark tones seen at 380 Elgin St., “it’s going to be another version of this place,” said Anafua.

But the new location will also offer customers a new eating experience. With a larger kitchen, the original menu of tacos – pork, beef, and ox tongue – will be augmented by more “not taco” menu items – crispy prawn betel leaf, shrimp dumplings, green papaya salad and more.

The restaurant will also feature a take-out window for those looking for a meal on-the-go.

The final menu for the new restaurant is a work in progress, said Anafua: “Nothing is set in stone.”

The restaurant will also feature two patios – one on the rooftop and one along the street.

With rooftop railings atop the restaurant’s façade, customers will have a clear view of Clarence Street.

At street level, diners will be able eat and drink while watching the busy foot traffic in the Market.

El Camino on Elgin Street is currently open Tuesday to Sunday. The new location will be open seven days a week and also remain open for lunch.

“We’re looking at a much larger staff because of the fact that we are open for lunch,” said Anafua.

El Camino held a job fair on March 27 looking to hire back-of-house, front-of-house and management staff.

Almost 60 applicants applied for positions at the new restaurant.

“Being here on Elgin, there’s not a lot of walk-by traffic, so you have to know about El Camino to come here,” said Anafua. “On Clarence Street, it’s always busy in the summer time and there’s lots more walk-by traffic.”

The new El Camino is set to open its doors in June.