Dining: Restaurants open in Boca, Boynton for lovers of Mexican fare

El Camino, the popular Mexican chain that began in downtown Delray Beach, has expanded to Boca Raton. The Modern Restaurant Group’s fourth, and largest, location opened in December.

Known for authentic, from-scratch foods such as its tortillas, El Camino brings its fare to Restaurant Row in Midtown, 5377 Town Center Road. The 10,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor space is now the flagship of the chain.

Asked about expansion plans, the vice president of Modern Restaurant’s operations, Francis Lake, said, “We’ve always been looking at new markets to bring El Camino to, including Tampa, Orlando and Key West at the moment.” He explained the popularity at the restaurant, calling it a “cult favorite” brand. “We aren’t a food truck or street food-offering concept.”

Everything on the food and drink menus is chef-driven, Lake said, using all fresh ingredients — the restaurant has no freezers for food. Twenty-five sauces are made in-house daily.

Billed as Mexican soul food, the menu in Boca Raton includes new items, such as red snapper ceviche Veracruz using manzano chiles, pickled cambray onions, capers and organic green olives; a chopped salad made with chayote squash, jicama, red cabbage and spiced pepita seeds; and a cochinita pibil taco with habanero salsa.

Foods are sourced locally when possible, and some organic is offered.

New cocktails here include several margaritas — a mango lassi, blueberry, hibiscus guava and an avocado ’rita.

Another new house-made drink is a banana tequila. The bananas marinate in reposado tequila, then are combined with a banana peel Demerara sugar. A michelada has a house-made mix featuring Maggi seasoning and a smoky house-made salt using Tajin, smoked sea salt and ground chipotle peppers.

Design of the new restaurant follows those of Delray, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale with broad murals by Miami urban street artist Ruben Ubiera.

Two live trees anchor patio seating, with banquettes underneath. The indoor/outdoor bar wraps around the building and features a corner outside fireplace. Tables come in varying configurations.

As with the others, the Boca restaurant is open late night.

El Camino, 5377 Town Center Road, No. 100, Boca Raton. 561-980-7700; Open daily, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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By:Jan Norris