When experts from the Prague gastro scene ask which company to go to for dinner, their tips will be the same on El Camina. In the tapas bar in the immediate vicinity of Jiřího z Poděbrad Square you will get really great food and service, David Böhm manages his own business here with elegance.
A globetrotter, but also a patriot of Mariánské Lázně, he ran the Mediterranean restaurant Medité in his hometown for ten years, for which guests willingly came from most parts of the country. Just as there in Prague, Böhm dances with the ease of a First Republic gentleman between tables and talks to guests.
And that El Camina’s own staff is very diverse. During a single evening in a minimalist dark interior, squid and duck tacos are tasted by a New York banker, a well-known Czech actor, gallerists, but also by a couple who came here to celebrate the wedding anniversary. The unobtrusive but very attentive behavior of the staff is crowned by the owner’s own stops at the individual tables.
If you want to admire one thing about David Böhm, it will not be his sense of creating a good restaurant, but the way he sincerely likes people. And it’s not just the guests they want to give them a gastronomic and cultural experience, thanks to which they will stop in their hectic lives and forget about everyday problems, but also Böhm’s team.
“I’m really happy for the people I work with. We try to create with them, but also allow them to grow or leave them alone for a while, if we need to. We work together because we enjoy it, not because it is a duty, “says the man, who for the first time built abroad for almost ten years to return to Western Bohemia later.
After a decade of balancing the weekends between busy weekends and empty working days, Böhm decided to close this chapter and relocate to Prague. “Bringing the business here was a big risk, it could lead the family until my now four-year-old son. I invested many times more in Prague than in Mariánské Lázně, “Böhm calculates.
Luckily, the clientele, who went to riders who did not find it in Prague for its gastronomy and artificial behavior. Without much advertising, the door did not close here shortly after opening in 2019 – but then came the lockdown.
“I am exaggerating that if you want to know when not to invest, follow me. When I opened Medité, it was December 19, 2008, and in February of the following year, the economic crisis began in Mariánské Lázně, which lasted until 2013. We persevered thanks to our love and tenacity, “the businessman recapitulates.
During the pandemic, El Camino was again held by regular guests, for whom Böhm and his team prepared private cooking. “In difficult times, I thought of my grandmother, she was a survivor of Auschwitz. I had the impression that she was holding a protective hand over me, “smiles the restaurateur.
Which evenings in El Camino are always full of guests, now the restaurant is open for lunch on some days. “I believe we are an ideal place for business meetings. Food can’t do exactly any problem, “says Böhm.
What lunch with wine pairing you can get here in an hour and a half, you lose track of time during dinner and in El Camino, which in Spanish translation means a journey, you can sit for four hours.
“Our restaurant does not want to be a pop star, but a chamber affair. We realize that we are not for everyone. But I believe that most people in the world work the same way, and even though Czechs are not so used to Spanish cuisine yet, they can get acquainted with it and enrich it, “says a man who is convinced that good gastronomy stands and falls on consistency.
That is why he is careful when he hears the praise that he conquered Prague with his tapas bar. “The economic result is only in second place. You cannot tell a guest that you are looking forward to his money. You have to fight for the brilliantly cooked sauce to light it up with luck – and it has to be repeated every day, “recalls David Böhm.
He works with great passion, but at the same time he realizes how easy it would be to burn up in his profession and position. “My wife is engaged in Vedic meditation, if I hadn’t met her, I probably wouldn’t have done very well,” he says.
“Today I know it is essential that I rest. It is based on personal and team well-being, “admits a man whose success he enjoys, but humility comes first for him. “We live on, we pay our debts, we work and hopefully we will be healthy. It’s the most important. “