Mitchell Gilbert Messina's mock-ups and sketches in Woodstock are all about aspiration
El Camino Café in Cape Town
Traverse the globe with a single mouthful at this new city centre eatery
There’s something incredibly warm about El Camino, a newly opened café that sits in The Urban Hub complex on the edge of the Bo-Kaap. It might just be the multi-coloured rug found in the centre of the eatery that emanates a ‘welcome home’ vibe or it could be owners Marijus and Jessica Jakas’s personal story of how the establishment came to be that makes visitors feel all fuzzy inside.
It was while the two founders were journeying separately to the end of the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage walk in Spain that they crossed paths for the first time and they have been inseparable ever since – what’s ensued is marriage, a baby, and now, a cosy spot on Buitengracht Street.
Their unique tale (you should ask them to give you details) and their love for exploring parts of the globe comes through in almost every feature of the restaurant. The décor immerses patrons in a space that is sure to spark wanderlust – travel memorabilia like suitcases, compasses, vintage cameras, bottles, canteens and clocks are all cleverly sprawled across the interior. “They’re all things that you find while on a journey,” explains Jessica, who is the mastermind behind the intriguing aesthetic. She’s also set off the international feel by adding a few home-grown touches, and so the exquisite stained oak tables, the copper light fittings and the colourful upholstery found in the restaurant are local and beautifully lekker.
Speaking of lekker, El Camino’s food also ties in to the travel theme. Under the flag ‘global eatery’, the menu takes visitors’ taste buds on a trip around the world. Palates can journey to Japan thanks to the eatery’s beef teriyaki (it’s served on a bed of grilled veg) or to Southeast Asia with the Vietnamese spring rolls (you can choose between two options: mushroom teriyaki and veg or chicken, peanut and veg). Otherwise, they can wander all the way to the Caribbean courtesy of The Cuban, which is a sandwich that includes slow roasted pulled pork, gypsy ham, Emmental cheese and gherkins served on a choice of ciabatta, rye or sourdough toast (this is one of Jessica’s favourites, by the way).
The café’s all-day breakfast offering, which includes eggs benedict, granola and a ‘build your own’ option, makes El Camino a great place to gear up for a long work day ahead, and guests can even turn the spot into their own workstation thanks to the free Wi-fi.
Additionally, patrons can pair the culinary items with one of the eatery’s top drinks; they can choose from hot beverages, like Americanos, cortados, lattes, flat whites and teas, or they can opt for The Green Mamba, a cold-pressed juice made from apples, lemon, celery, cucumber and spinach; The Red Riding Hood, a combination of beetroot, carrot, apple, ginger and lemon; or The Gold Digger, a mix of pineapple, apple and mint, all while casually swaying to the soft tunes playing in the background.
Whether you’re at El Camino to sip on one of these cool elixirs, to indulge in food or just to gaze at the London clock centrepiece on the wall, when you leave after your first visit, you’ll likely do one of two things: make a plan to visit this gem again or organise your next trip to satisfy an awakened desire to travel.
Note: El Camino is available for venue hire outside of its normal opening hours. So, you can plan an intimate birthday celebration get-together or a corporate event in this homely, relaxed environment. Contact the eatery on +27 (0) 21 422 2552 for more information.
Tip: Although the eclectic café is only open until 4pm on most days, on Thursday nights, it plays host to unique dining experiences. For example, in April 2015, El Camino is running Thursday Oishii Nights, which treat attendees to Japanese-style steamed rolls filled with delicious goods. Access to these exciting evenings is available by pre-booking only; for more information about happenings in the future, visit El Camino’s Facebook page. To book, call +27 (0) 21 422 2552.
The Bill: El Camino’s prices are reasonable. An eggs benedict costs between R55 and R60 (depending on the filling), a cheese burger goes for R65 (including fries), sandwiches are priced between R50 and R65 and wraps range from R55 to R60. Cold beverages ring in at between R15 and R30, while hot beverages cost between R14 and R25.
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 8am – 4pm (on Thursday evenings, the café is open until 9:30pm)
The Urban Hub | 142 Buitengracht Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 422 2552
by Dudu Luthuli
Walk a personal pilgrimage to slow down and take a break from a busy life during the Cape Camino.
Looking for another unique eatery in the Mother City? Try Downtown Ramen in Cape Town’s Harrington Street.
Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, connect with us on LinkedIn, check out our photos on Instagram and follow our Pinterest boards for updates on what’s happening in and around the Mother City!