All Roads Lead to El Camino - The Bend Magazine

All Roads Lead to El Camino

Downtown’s newest Tex-Mex spot and its inventive, yet familiar fare.

photo of the bar at El Camino Comida & Bar

Photo by Matthew Meza

After the building that had housed the former Water Street Seafood Company was vacated due to the effects of Hurricane Harvey, whispers about a Tex-Mex concept, spearheaded by the Water Street Company, piqued the locals’ interest.

“We really wanted to be careful not to come off as trying to be very authentic, as we knew that we were not native to Mexico and are just seafood restaurant operators that love Tex-Mex,” said Richard Lomax, owner of El Camino, on the decision to pursue a restaurant of this kind. Fast forward a few years, and after a kitchen overhaul and a lengthy renovation, El Camino came to life in the fall of 2023.

Its dimly lit, terra cotta color palette is a welcome throwback, reminiscent of taquerias that were scattered around South Texas in the ’60s and ’70s. However inviting and pleasant it might be, though, a positive interior mood must be paired with menu excellence to cater to the clientele of South Texas customers well-acquainted with Tex-Mex fare. The good news is the menu gracefully walks the line between familiar and innovative, casual and elevated; perfect for special occasions or after-work drinks alike. It’s also delicious.

“We did not necessarily want to be avant-garde or different, just excellent,” Lomax said about the menu curation. “We hired a chef from Houston that had worked in the competitive fajita market there to help us piece together ideas as well as draw on some old recipes from the ’80s and ’90s that brought the spirit of seafood and Tex-Mex together.” The team realized that if the restaurant could be a local place focused on excellent mesquite-grilled meats and good margaritas as its core offerings, consumers might respond favorably.

The star-studded menu is filled with hearty plates of enchiladas and sizzling fajitas served with rice and beans, plus a late-night menu of the usual a la carte suspects. The “Dynamite Sticks,” which are shrimp- and crawfish-stuffed flautas, and the Barbecue Butter Oysters both reflect Lomax’s loyalty to his seafood roots.

photo of the fajita plate from El Camino Comida & Bar
Photos by Matthew Meza

For a Tex-Mex restaurant to survive amid the high standards of South Texans, there are two non-negotiables: homemade tortillas and really good salsa … and an ample drink menu with seven different agua fresca flavors doesn’t hurt. El Camino has it all with a familiar menu of pastor, birria and chicken tinga tacos to boot.

When it comes to cocktails, the Horchata Colada is a crowd-pleaser, as is the $26 margarita pitcher that will get you four generous portions for sipping while munching on chili con queso from the late-night menu. Saving room for the churro donuts served with homemade whipped cream and a Mexican hot chocolate sauce is a no-brainer.

As for what Lomax hopes El Camino offers the Coastal Bend? “We want to continue to service our customers that already love to come and celebrate at Water Street Oyster Bar and Executive Surf Club, and give them another option in a space that reflects the culture of our community.”

Contact: 314 N. Chaparral St. | @elcamino_texmex   |