When a beloved institution closes, any establishment that takes its place walks a razor's edge: Don't try to be everyone's best friend right away, but don't retreat so much into tourism-land that the locals roll their eyes. Raul and LiAnne Morales have struck the right balance with El Callejón, the moody-hued yet friendly family restaurant that took over the former El Paseo space. The husband-and-wife duo greet you at the door; their daughter brings you your dishes of Aguascalientes-style Mexican food; when we were there, Neil Young twanged from the speakers. El Callejón is more than just a taco joint: Burgers, both meat and vegetarian, range from $9.50-$12.50; tostadas de ceviche ($11.75-$12.75) are a spicy and zingy meal in and of themselves. There are plenty of non-taco options—but seriously, get the tacos. They're served either a la carte or in platters of three with rice and beans. Our favorite is the barbacoa ($3.25 a la carte), but the tofu ($3.25) is legit too, not to mention camarones ($3.75) and pollo asado ($3.25)—OK, so maybe all the tacos are good. Finish it off with a buñuelo ice cream sundae ($6.95): vanilla ice cream and caramel loaded into a fried and sugared tortilla. Don't worry about saving room—you'll be inspired to just cram it in. (CJ)

Lunch and Dinner
Tuesday-Sunday

.$$.

El Callejón
208 Galisteo St.,

505-983-8378