By Chris O’Neal

El Rey Cantina
294 E Main St., unit C, Ventura
2302 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo

elreySitting at the El Rey Cantina in Camarillo, a friend asked, “Isn’t this the place with the underwear hanging from the ceiling?” A quick glance at the ceiling proved that no, this was not the place with the underwear hanging from the ceiling — that would be El Rey’s counterpart in Ventura, where bras dangle from the chandeliers like icicles.

The vibe in Camarillo, if you can imagine, is a bit different than in Ventura. It’s more family-friendly and has more room to move around, but the drinks at both are equally tasty. We ordered a pitcher of margaritas in Camarillo and kept ’em coming, passing the extra-tart thirst quencher around.

In Ventura, we were at El Rey as part of the Second Annual My Bloody Valentine pub crawl hosted by The Bloody Cure, a michelada mix developed by Sam’s Saticoy Liquor owner Sky Sunner.

The michelada, basically a Bloody Mary utilizing lager instead of vodka, is a great hangover cure as it’s packed with your daily essentials: vegetables, uh . . . booze and spices. The El Rey michelada was on special for the crawl at $5 a pop and was served in a salt-, chili- and lime-rimmed glass. I can’t recall ever having a michelada so late in the evening (it was around 8:30 p.m. at this point), but maybe I should continue the trend, as after several pints not only was I a bit buzzed but also full, as if I’d eaten a meal with every pour.

On the menu at El Rey is a wide range of, as you can imagine, tequila-inspired beverages. The aforementioned margarita pitcher we ordered also comes in several variations. The “Slammed Pink Cadillac” is made with Don Julio silver tequila, pomegranate liqueur, orange liqueur and fresh sweet and sour. As I finished my fourth michelada, a customer picked up his “New School Horchata” (Absolut vanilla vodka blended with horchata and a drop of Patron coffee liqueur), and I knew what I was having for dessert.

El Rey has become quite the institution in both Ventura and Camarillo. If you’re looking for a margarita with your tacos, look no further.

Chris O’Neal floated most of the way through the pub crawl. Follow him on Instagram @atchrisoneal.