4

We'll take a bar stool any day at El Camino

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Happy Place: El Camino, 3628 West 32nd Avenue, 720-889-7946.

The Hours: Daily from 3 to 6:30 p.m.

The Deals: $1.50-$2.50 beer specials; $4.50 house margaritas; $1.50-$6 food specials.

Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.

The Digs: El Camino is a community hub in Highland, perched on a bustling street that's packed with boutiques, restaurants and specialty shops. Several restaurants have squatted in the space that houses El Camino, but it seems as though this hip cantina and tequila watering hole is here to stay -- and we're more than okay with that. The long, narrow room is as funky as they come, with a Dia de los Muertos motif juxtaposed with Mexican beer chandeliers and large art deco wall decorations. Frankly, it's hard to leave.

The Verdict: "Sorry for the wait," our server said with a shy smile. "Our computer system is down."

But we hadn't been waiting at all. Despite a packed restaurant in the middle of a chaotic happy hour -- and a staff operating without a computer system -- the whole operation was running smoothly and everyone, staff included, was having a great time. Our margaritas -- tangy and tart, and poured with a heavy hand -- arrived quickly, as did our food.

And the happy hour snacks at El Camino are more than adequate, existing of large portions that are pleasing to the palate and provide a hearty base for soaking up all of the booze you just can't help but guzzle. The Mexican pizza, traditional toppings on a flaky, fried tortilla crust, easily feeds three, and the huge vat of creamy queso dip could have kept the entire restaurant happy for hours. After we paid our tab, we decided to stay for the Nuggets game, drinking the night away in a kitschy bar with a boisterous crowd and friendly staff.

El Camino, we really kind of dig your style.

Overall Grade: A

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