El Camino Cafe Represents Mañana in Tustin

Dear Tustin: What the hell is wrong with you? Oh, you're a fine enough city, with one of the most-underrated food scenes in OC. But then I get to Old Town and see . . . barely anything. Empty streets. Little sign of life. I told a pal a couple of years ago who wanted to open a restaurant that this was the neighborhood to do it, that the scenery was great. But he didn't open here, listing all the bistros and bars that have come and gone over the years, and saying the empty spaces that still stand today worried him.

Defend your historic downtown's honor! Support those brave, young souls willing to open up shop here. Support El Camino Cafe, a charming-as-hell Mexican breakfast spot already popular with Tustinites—but it still needs to become more popular. Make the lines Anepalco's long. For here is the latest addition to OC's pantheon of spectacular Mexican cafés, a cubbyhole that looks like a Morelia dream as filtered through pocho eyes.

El Camino Cafe's menu is deliciously simple: hefty but not gargantuan burritos (of the breakfast and not variety), egg dishes (the huevos divorciados: two eggs on top of ham and drowned in red and green salsa is how you'll want to eat eggs from now on), and quesadillas served with a delightful citrus pesto. The breakfast torta—beans and ham and a big ol' bolillo—deserves a restaurant of its own; the potato taquitos crunch with verve and sit light on the stomach. And then come the chilaquiles: perfect, striking the ideal balance between crunch and softness, with an egg downright gossamer in its look. Yeah, I wish the salsas were spicier, but this is down-home Mexican food for the masses—so folks should sneak in some chiles de mordida if they must.

Right now, El Camino is only open for breakfast and lunch. But if you do your part, Tustin, I can see it expand to dinner. And if El Camino succeeds, then I see more young restaurateurs moving to Old Town. And if that happens, then you can finally achieve your potential. But if you choose to keep El Camino your quiet secret, Tustin? Then shame on ustedes—let the rest of us in!

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