El Camino Real, the "Mexican border bar" in Northern Liberties from Owen Kamihira, has its opening set for Dec. 16 at 1040 N. Second St., in the Liberties Walk space that previously housed Deuce. Kamihira also owns Bar Ferdinand, the Spanish tapas bar, across the way. He also had a hand in some of Stephen Starr's designs, including the Buddakan Buddha and the iconic martini olive at the Continental.
ECR's atmosphere will be rustic and funky, supposedly evoking a dusty, low-lit, turn-of-the-20th-century cowboy-bar setting, down to the oak flooring. Artist Murf Sherman carved an eight-foot longhorn skull from a pine tree for one wall. There are cowboy paintings from Phil "Prairie Dog" Wax. Accompanying this post is a look at Joe Brenman's wooden Virgin of Guadalupe, sitting in a steel bathtub illuminated by Christmas lights. The bar was pieced together from reclaimed oak from a covered bridge in Lancaster; the backs of the vinyl seats were hand-sewn from Mexican falsa blankets.
As for the food: Chef Jen Zavala, who's lived and worked from Connecticut to California, is aiming for the northern Mexican experience with two separate menus: Texas barbecue on one, and Juarez-style staples, including her grandmother's refried beans and carnitas, on the other.
Prices have not been set on these menus, but the overall price range is $3 to $22. Drink list will include many bourbons and tequilas (25-plus varieties each).