El Camino número uno

You read, you tasted tacos and you voted. And now Ottawa Citizen readers have crowned El Camino the taco king of town.

Star chef Matthew Carmichael opened El Camino earlier this summer and people have been lining up at his take-out taco window ever since. Photo by Jean Levac

More than 1,200 votes were cast in the Citizen’s online poll from Aug. 15 to Aug. 29.

El Camino, the new Elgin Street resto with a popular takeout taco window, swept into an early lead when voting began. For most of the poll, however, Corazón de Maíz, in the ByWard Market building, ran neck and neck with El Camino, and was even in first place for several days before El Camino regained its lead with a last-minute rush of votes.

Star chef Matthew Carmichael opened El Camino earlier this summer and people have been lining up at his take-out taco window ever since. Photo by Jean Levac, The Ottawa Citizen.

Voters were vocal.

“Am I angry, I don’t like any of these places, I want Lone Star,” wrote one reader. So we added two more spots, Lone Star and Mucho Burrito, to our original dozen contenders.

Others offered tasty suggestions, often for places that don’t regularly offer tacos, but make sensational specials.

“It was the best taco I’ve ever eaten!” one voter wrote about the fish taco she had at the Bite This truck on Richmond Road in Westboro. Another recommended “total T’s Taco Tuesdays” at Ottawa’s Jail Hostel, which offers a vegetarian option, as does The Manx.

Seafood seems to have made the biggest splash, with raves for the fish tacos at Big Rig, Moxie’s and The Exchange and a whole school of votes for Pelican Grill’s halibut tacos.

Ten lucky voters won gift certificates for a free taco dinner.

Here’s how the tacos stacked up:

1. El Camino, 380 Elgin St.

2. Corazón de Maíz, 55 ByWard Market Square

3. Hooley’s, 292 Elgin St.

4. Bonita’s Cantina, 250 City Centre Ave.

5. Ahora, 307 Dalhousie St.

6. Burrito Borracho, 105 Clarence St.

7. Burrito Gringo, 565 Bronson Ave.

8. Los Tacos de Mauro, 349 Dalhousie St.

9. Sidedoor, 18 York St.

10. Tacolot, 999 Wellington St. W

11. Mucho Burrito, Several locations

12. Stone Soup Foodworks, University of Ottawa campus

13. Lone Star, Several locations

14. Piggy Market, 440 Winston Ave.

What’s our opinion? The Citizen’s restaurant critic Peter Hum has been trying tacos too. On Sept. 24, he’ll reveal his top taco pick at ottawacitizenstyle.com and in Ottawa Citizen Style magazine, which is free to home subscribers or available at area Chapters stores about 10 days later.

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