Distilled: Tequila vs. beer: Which is better with tacos?

From the February 28, 2013 edition

Last week I got a craving for tacos and realized I hadn’t been to El Camino Inn yet. Then another thought crossed my mind as I decided to satiate my hankering: what goes better with tacos: beer or tequila?

The Fourth Street taco joint (from the proprietors of Little Palace, Club 185 and The Rossi) is modeled after a throwback dive you’d find in San Diego. El Camino has a definite SoCal vibe, but it’s by no means a dive. The small space is ’70s vintage cool, highlighted by bar stools reminiscent of old school bucket seats and a very busy bartender finding time to spin Eric Burdon and David Bowie on vinyl. I felt like I was going to run into Hank and Brit from the Ocean Beach-set TV series “Terriers.”

The reason I chose El Camino, besides having not been and hearing good reports, was it had everything I needed to complete my quest — the street-style tacos I craved and an ample selection of tequilas, beers and even a roster of south-of-the-border cocktails.

Since it was an extremely busy night, I had to belly up at the bar for a drink before feasting. I began with a margarita, an excellent choice as it’s quite possibly the best ’rita in town.

With one chicken and one chorizo taco, I threw down the gauntlet and ordered a Cucapa Obscura canned brew and a shot. I chose the Cucapa Obscura, an American brown ale from a Baja brewery, because the popular Mexican beers are a watery mess. (If it requires a lime to be tolerable, I pass.)

My results were mixed, and it was tough to choose a winner. I preferred the tequila with my chicken taco and the beer with my chorizo one, if only by a hair. The tequila kicked the chicken, while the beer helped balance the spice of the chorizo.

Even though the Cucapa was better than expected, I have to go with tequila. I’m not a big tequila drinker, but the pairing just worked so damn well. Plus, drinking tequila always brings about fond memories of Pee Wee Herman dancing.