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Posts Categorised: Soho

Down Baja California Way…

Come along to El Camion and we promise a little slice of Baja California, right here in Soho. From our authentic Mexican grub (shredded chicken tacos.. mmm) to our vibrant, brightly coloured tablecloths, we like to bring the sunshine. But how much do you know about Baja California? And what kind of things can you expect to see when you’re over there?

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Baja California

‘Baja’ is actually the world’s second longest peninsula, and is the most North Westerly state in Mexico. Officially known as Free and Sovereign State of Baja California, it became a state in 1953. Renowned for its beautiful beaches, stunning scenery, lush forests and friendly, relaxed people, it is a great destination spot. This is where famous cities such as Tijuana and Los Cabos are located, and the lapping waves of the Pacific ocean make this the ideal spot to find a beach bar and sip ice cold margaritas. Or embrace a more adventurous side by wandering through the pastel canyons or braving the surf for an adrenalin kick!

The cuisine of Baja California is a blend of traditional Mexican fare – incorporating beans, tortillas and spice – with the fruits of the land. There’s superb fish thanks to the seaside proximity (think fish tacos – delicious), and expert beef preparation because of its arid-inland ranching. These are the kind of authentic vibes we’re channeling in our menu!

So if you do find yourself down Mexico way, what can you expect? Well, here are three things not to be missed:

Espiritu Santo

Located in La Paz, this gorgeous collection of shallow inlets and sugar-pink cliffs is a Unesco World Heritage Site. With activities such as snorkelling or kayaking, or just the chance to absorb the beautiful sites, it is certainly worth a visit. La Paz itself is a bustling collection of lively squares, city streets and stunning beaches.

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Centro Cultural Tijuana

For those culture vultures, then a trip to this arts centre is a must. It’s got just about everything you could want – an art gallery, the Museo de las Californias , a theater, and the globular cinema Domo Imax , which shows predominantly art-house movies. See, Mexico isn’t just about the beaches!

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Parque Nacional Sierra San Pedro Mártir

To experience Baja Californian wildlife at its very best then a visit to this national park can’t be missed. The flora and fauna is home to bobcats, deer and bighorn sheep, but make sure to look UP, since this is one of only six places in the world where the almost-extinct California Condor is being reintroduced into the wild. As well as keeping your eyes open for this stunning bird, you can wander through pine-scented air beneath the impressive conifers. A great and magical escape.

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So there you have it – some of the amazing sights to behold if you ever do head to Baja California. But if you can’t spring for a ticket just yet, don’t worry – a visit to use, with margarita in hand and a quesadilla to munch on, is almost as good…

 

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Wine at El Camion – We uncork the reds…

If you fancy a drink at lunch but think it’s too early for cocktails and tequila (apparently, there is such a thing), we serve a fabulous selection of great wines by the glass, specifically chosen to pair well with the flavours and spices in Mexican food. In our last blog, we looked at our white and rose wines and gave suggestions of well-matched dishes. Now it’s time to look at the reds. Pass the corkscrew.

Santa Puerto
Red wines

Our house red wine is the Tempranillo Pleno, Bodega Brana Vieja, from the Northern Spain region of Navarra. This wine is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes, which is the same grape variety used to make Rioja, and it has been aged in old oak barrels for at least six months, which is where it’s spiced oak flavour comes from.

Tastes like: Ruby red in colour, Tempranillo Pleno tastes like dark cherry and vanilla spice. Typical of Tempranillo wines, it is soft and fruity and has a pleasantly sweet finish.

Goes well with: A light and soft wine, it is lovely on its own or with grilled fish or grilled chicken. It would be a great match with a Chicken Tinga Burrito.

Prices: £19/bottle £5/glass

Pleno Tempranillo
The second red on the menu is the Merlot, Santa Puerta, which comes from the Maule Valley in Chile. The area is made up of rich and volcanic soils and produces powerful, spicy and aromatic wines.

Tastes like: At 14%, it is a strong and robust wine, with intense berry fruit flavours. It has been aged in oak for nine months, which gives it a deep, spicy layer of flavour. Warming and rounded, it has a pleasant, silky finish.

Goes well with: The depth of this wine can handle big flavours, plus its high alcohol content will help to break down meaty dishes. Perfectly paired dishes include anything with beef and pork. Why not try it with a Carne Asada Enchilada?

Prices: £23/bottle £6.50/glass

Merlot, Santa Puerta
Our wines are available by the glass or by the bottle – which one you order is up to you! Feel free to ask us to recommend a wine to go with your meal. ¡Buen apetito!

A glass with lunch at El Camion? Wine not…

Here at El Camion, we are famous for our cocktails, but did you know that we also do wine?? Sometimes (most of the time), a lunch out calls for wine, but unfortunately a bottle of the red or white stuff isn’t always appropriate to order, especially if you’ve got to head back to the office or if you’re being trusted to pick out a birthday present for your partner’s grandmother, or the like. Luckily for you, we serve a great selection of wines by the glass, so you can enjoy a lunchtime tipple, without swinging from the office lights by 3pm.

Santa Puerto

 

White wines

Our white wines pair exceptionally well with Mexican food, as they complement the light spices and flavours of the cuisine, without being too overpowering.

Our house white wine is Viura Pleno, Bodega Brana Vieja, from the Navarra region in Spain. This area has been making wine since the ancient Roman times, so they’ve pretty much got it down to a fine art. This wine is made from 100% viura grapes, which are known for their versatility and are the primary ingredient in white Riojas.

Tastes like: Bright, straw-yellow in colour, it tastes clean and crisp – a bit like green apples or citrus fruits, with floral notes.

Goes well with: As it’s so easy-drinking, this wine goes well with most dishes on the menu, especially chicken, fish or salads, and at just 12%, it’s a great option for lunch. Try it with a Grilled Fish Ensalada or Grilled Chicken nachos.

Prices: £19/bottle, £5/glass

Viura Pleno

 

Our second white wine on the menu is the Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Puerta. This is a Chilean wine from the Central Valley, the largest and most productive wine-making region in South America. Made in a 100% sustainable winery, it is organic, meaning it is good for the environment and not too bad for you, either.

Tastes like: At 13.5%, this wine is full of flavour and is bursting with tropical fruits, like passionfruit, mango and peaches. It also has a herbaceous dimension to it, with a persistent, refreshing finish.

Goes well with: Sauvignon Blanc is one of the only white wines that pairs well with sushi, so any seafood dishes are good, like the Grilled Fish Tacos. The herbal notes also make this wine a good pairing with any dishes made with coriander and fennel, like the burritos and the ensaladas.

Prices: £23/bottle £6.50/glass

Grilled Fish Ensalada

Rosé wines

Our rosé is the Pleno Rosado, Bodega Brana Vieja from Navarra in northern Spain, made from 100% Grenache grapes. Grenache, or Garnacha, as it is known in Spain, is a red wine grape grown extensively in France, Spain, Australia and America. It is one of the most widely distributed grapes in the world, down to its versatility both in the vineyard and the winery.

Tastes like: With an intense strawberries and cream aroma, Pleno Rosado tastes like strawberry and raspberry fruits. Although it is dark in colour, it is light and crisp on the palate and it lifts flavours with its refreshing acidity.

Goes well with: As an ideal accompaniment to ethnic cuisines, fish and poultry, this wine is great with Mexican food. It’s a fantastic match with any of our dishes that are made with black beans – why not try it with a Yucatan Beef Tostada.

Prices: £21/bottle £5.50/glass
In our next blog, we will explore the red wines on our menu. Enjoy your lunch!

El Camion Turns 5!

This month El Camion celebrates its 5th birthday! It’s crazy to think we have been rustling up burritos and shaking margaritas to the hungry and thirsty Soho public for half a decade now. Considered an industry local, a party den or simply the place to chow down on nachos like nobody’s watching, we will be celebrating our 5th birthday in style very soon. There will be tequila.

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In the mean time, here’s a look back at our 5 years on Brewer Street in reviews.

2010 – A Hedonist’s Guide To…

‘This is an after-work joint for local industry insiders (for whom work finishes at midnight) who know to stick with perfectly crafted cocktails, and that the best secret party is hidden in the arse-end of Soho.’

http://www.hg2london.com/bars/bodega/—dicks-at-el-camion—london-uk

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2011 – The Cocktail Lovers

‘This is a lovely, friendly good time bar. Better still everything about enjoying cocktails in London just gets so very much better knowing that Dick Bradsell is around and doing his stuff.’

http://www.thecocktaillovers.com/2011/08/baja-room-el-camion-soho-w1/

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2012 – London On The Inside

‘With decent grub, super cocktails and quirky decor you could easily whittle away your pay packet here and we’ll definitely be giving it a go.’

http://londontheinside.com/2012/07/23/review-el-camion/

 

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2013 – Londonist

‘If you’re up for a dance, Mexican vibes and a damn good time, head to The Pink Chihuahua (‘Dick’s Bar’), quite possibly the friendliest bar in Soho, with warm welcomes and staff with a talent for remembering names and favourite drinks.’

http://londonist.com/2013/10/where-to-get-a-drink-after-midnight-in-london.php

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2014 – I’m A Londoner

‘El Camion has something else up its sleeves; a Mexican restaurant menu that has kept loyal fans flocking straight back over the years to Brewer Street. It seems to have survived, almost solely, off a word-of-mouth trade on the competitive streets of gastro Soho. The long and short of it is: those who like it, love it.’

http://imalondoner.com/el-camion-mexicano-soho/

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2015 – Difford’s Guide

‘In the basement, below Sage Conran’s excellent Mexican restaurant you’ll find the Pink Chihuahua, a basement bar which is often presided over by bartending legend, Dick Bradsell.’

http://www.diffordsguide.com/pubs-and-bars/370/london/the-pink-chihuahua-at-el-camion

Difford's Guide review

El Camion’s Top Cocktails

Not only do we make the best Mexican fare in town, but we’re a dab hand at mixing cocktails too, with some of London’s most talented bartenders at the shaker. When you’re out for dinner, enjoy scanning your eye over our cocktail menu, where we use premium spirits with inventive ingredients to bring something fresh and innovative to the palate.

Take a peek at some of the most popular cocktails here at El Camion.

Tommy’s Margarita

One of BarChick’s faves, we mix Altos tequila with agave syrup, bringing a sweet agave kick to your classic margarita. Shaken with fresh lime juice and served on the rocks, this is a zesty taste of the Mexican party spirit.

Margarita

 

Pink Chihuahua

So good we named our members bar after it. Or did we name it after our members bar? What came first – the chicken or the egg? Altos tequila shaken with lime juice and almond syrup is delicious enough, creating a fruity, tart concoction. The addition of fresh pomegranate juice mellows the flavour and gives it its beautiful rose hue and, with a topping of shaken egg white, the texture is smooth, silky and completely moreish.

Pink chihuahua

Espresso Martini

The world-famous Espresso Martini was invented by none other than our cocktail aficionado, Dick. Wyborowa Vodka with fresh espresso, Tia Maria, Kahlua, and a dash of sugar is the answer to your prayers when you’re feeling a little less than party. Served straight up in a martini glass, it tastes like strong coffee with notes of chocolate and the texture is smooth and frothy.

Espresso martini

 

Also give these two a try:

Chilli-pina-rita

Another one of Dick’s creations, the Chilli-pina-rita is as exotic as it sounds. Altos Blanco Tequila is given a tropical hit with fresh pineapple spears, pineapple syrup and lime juice. Fresh red chillies bring a fiery dimension to it, awaking those tastebuds and delivering a helpful swift boot to your metabolism. Fresh, vibrant and spicy, it’s a great pre-dinner choice.

El Diablo

A favourite with those who like their cocktails how they like their dancing: fresh and fruity. Altos tequila mixed with lime juice and ginger ale, then topped with crème de cassis. Served long over ice, it is the taste of summer, whatever season we’re in.

Sangrita, You Say?!

As a house policy we don’t serve tequila with salt and lime. Instead we serve a homemade red sangrita, made with fresh pomegranate juice and hot sauces. All our tequilas are made from 100% agave and are some of the finest tequilas coming out of Mexico – we don’t want to sully them with salt!

 

Sangrita

 

Don’t confuse sangrita with sangria, though. Sangrita, meaning ‘little blood’, is a customary companion to a shot of straight tequila and is traditionally made from leftover juices (like orange and lime), pomegranate, fine pepper powder and spices. Its peppery, citrus taste compliments the tequila, also peppery and citrusy in taste, and highlights the tequila’s crisp acidity.

 

Tequila and sangrita

 

Traditionally, sangrita and tequila are poured into separate shot glasses and sipped alternatively, so that the sangrita cleanses the palate between each sip. We won’t judge you, however, if you decide to chase your shot of tequila with the sangrita. It’s more fun that way. It’s also used in a drink known as ‘The Mexican Flag’, where three separate double shot glasses are filled with lime juice, tequila and sangrita.

 

Mexican flag

 

Make your own sangrita!

A basic traditional recipe:

1 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 to 1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. real pomegranate-based grenadine
1/4 tsp. ancho chile powder or 3 dashes hot sauce
1-2 slices jalapeño

OR… just pour the juices left over from a fruit salad into a cup, along with some hot sauce, chilli powder, pepper and pomegranate juice, mix it altogether and there you have it – a traditional slap-dash sangrita, the way it was meant to be. Now onto choosing the tequila…

An introduction to mezcal – Del Maguey

Mezcal – have you given it a go yet? If you’re a staunch fan of tequila then it’s high time you expanded your horizons and embraced the other Mexican spirit that we love.

We’ve already gone into the difference between mezcal and tequila here, and now let us introduce you to one of our house pours – Mezcal Del Maguey1056744x.

 

There is a delicious smokey earthiness to Del Maguey – this is in part due to the way it is produced. With tequila, the agaves are baked or roasted in autoclaves. However, in traditional mezcal, they are smoked in earth pits called “huecos.”

 

Del Maguey is a great introduction to the spirit, as it has lovely citrus notes, layered with the pepper and smoke that good mezcal imparts. It is hand crafted and twice distilled, very slowly in small wood-fired, riverside copper stills.

 

When trying, expect to find a nose of fruit aromatics, with a hint of sweet honey, vanilla and then the delicious roast agave. The taste merges ginger, cinnamon and burnt sandlewood, along with fruits from banana to tangerine. The finish is long and soft, making it not only make it a delicious drink to sip, but it has huge versatility in cocktails.

Spotlight On: Olmeca Tezón Tequila

  1. Olmeca Tezón is one of our premium tequilas, made from 100% Agave. A product of the Olmeca family, who produce their tequila in the highlands of Jalisco in Mexico, Olmeca Tezón takes its name from the indigenous volcanic mineral, known locally as Tezontle, which the traditional Tahona wheel press is made from.
  2. Olmeca Tezón tequila 
  3. The Tahona milling method dates back over 500 years and involves an enormous two tonne millstone crushing the Agave piñas into a pulp. Only a few other producers of Tequila currently use this method of milling – it is three times more time consuming than modern methods and produces around 6% more wastage. So, a lot of time and love goes into each bottle! The sweet juice extracted from the Tahona is called Tahona Liquid, of which a percentage is integrated into the fermentation and distillation process of all Olmeca Tequilas. Olmeca Tezón is the only one, however, that contains 100% of the Tahona Liquid.There are three types of Olmeca Tezón on our Tequila menu – Blanco, Reposado and Añejo.

    Blanco (Silver)

    Unaged and bottled after distillation, this clear, crystalline tequila has a light and clean herbal scent and tastes of citrus fruits with hints of honey, vanilla and spice with a pleasant, lingering finish. This is one sexy, sophisticated tequila!

  4. Olmeca Tezón blanco
  5. Reposado (Aged)

    Its brilliant gold colour is obtained from the American white oak casks, that were formally used to age Wild Turkey Bourbon. Aged and for 8-10 months, it has mandarin and lime notes, with a woody finish. The taste is spicy with a vanilla richness, mixed with grapefruit and orange flavours, leaving a sweet, smoky trace.

  6. Tezón Reposado
  7. Añejo (Extra Aged)

    For the connoisseurs among us, Tezón Añejo has been aged slowly for between 18 and 20 months and is ripe, full-bodied with a robust smoky bouquet that stirs the senses. It has a rich butterscotch and vanilla palate, with notes of orange peel, sea salt and oak, thanks to those ex-Wild Turkey Bourbon casks, and a long finish

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  9. Tezón Añejo

If you’re interested in trying something different, we have a full tequila menu with tasting notes and our bar staff will happily chat with you about the unique tequilas we have in stock. Better get exploring!

We Heart Tequila & Mezcal Fest!

Last weekend saw the UK’s first Tequila and Mezcal festival, held at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel. It’s aim was to educate and celebrate – the agave plant is a magical natural wonder and has brought much happiness to the world, and people are just learning about what tequila and mezcal are all about. Guess what – tequila is more than a just a late night shot taken with salt and lemon – in fact, what a travesty it is to drink it that way!

Seminars we’re given by industry gurus, such as The President of The National Chamber of Tequila (yes, there is a Chamber of Tequila and yes, there is a President of it) and cinema showings and music (including an awesome live mariachi band) provided the entertainment.

Of course there were tastings (many, many tastings) and it was great to see so many exhibitors showing their wares – it was an excellent way to learn about tequila and mezcal first-hand and chat to the makers and suppliers of our favourite brands. There were some exciting emerging brands too – we particularly liked the look (and taste) of Tequila Grillos, who are brand new to the UK, and Tea & Tequila Trading, a new company who trade in drinks and Mexican merchandise. Very pretty Alacran rubber-coated bottles, we must say.

As one of our favourite drinks for a long time, mezcal got superb coverage and it we loved that there were so many varieties to try. We were big fans of Enmascarado and Ilegal.

All in all, Tequila & Mezcal Fest was a roaring success and we are glad that a festival of this kind has finally come to the UK. Bring on the next Tequila Fest!

Cocktails and late night tortillas in our Pink Chihuahua Bar!

Top tacos, banging burritos and gnarley nachos – El Camion Mexicano is all over it. Our Soho restaurant is the place to come to get your fill of the tastiest Mexican grub this side of the Atlantic. But, get this. Not only do we have awesome chefs in our kitchen, we also have some of the most talented bartenders in London behind our bar.

The Pink Chihuahua, our basement Baja bar, is where the magic happens and our skilled and knowledgable bar team are led by cocktail legend Dick Bradsell, the inventor of the Espresso Martini, no less.

Dick Bradsell's Espresso Martini Cocktail

Dick Bradsell’s Espresso Martini Cocktail

Here, you will experience the craftmanship of our passionate bar team and choose from an array of margaritas (try a mango one for something deliciously different) or one of our creamy batidas – or ask one of the guys to create a cocktail for you based on your preferences and tastes. Of course, our famous house cocktail is the Pink Chihuahua – sweet, fruity with a foamy layer on top, it is the perfect party drink.

The Pink Chihuahua is also the proud home of hundreds of tequilas and we welcome you to try any you fancy. This is a bar passionate about Mexico’s native tipple, tequila, and we have a whole menu at your perusal. We are also big fans of mezcal and we list 15 variations on our drinks list.

Our basement Baja bar is party central and we love hosting events down there – there is a booking policy but we welcome people to drop by or call up for a chat to see if we can accommodate. If you love our food and our unique party spirit, you’ll feel at home here – plus it’s open until the wee hours AND you can order food until 2am. Sweet!