Toledo’s Best Margarita (if you believe the Toledo City Paper) is now available in Ann Arbor. You’ll find it at Toledo’s Best Mexican Restaurant (if you believe the Toledo City Paper), also now available in Ann Arbor.

El Camino Real’s been racking up accolades in the paper’s Best of Toledo polls for the past five years. Now owner Jesus Angel is opening his third location (and his first outside Toledo) in the former Los Tres Amigos space near Briarwood. He says he wasn’t actively planning to open a place in Ann Arbor—it just kind of happened. “One Sunday we were eating at Tres Amigos, and the [owner] says, ‘We’re gonna sell it,” Angel recalls. “I said, ‘Okay.'” And he bought it.

Angel and his business partner took over in February, but they didn’t change the name until April because they were busy changing pretty much everything else. The first things to go were the old cartoon figures of miners digging in the desert that were painted on the wall—those dated from the restaurant’s days as the Roadrunner. When Los Tres Amigos took over, the owners redecorated on the cheap by having the original artist come back and, among other things, paint sombreros on the miners.

The results didn’t impress Angel. “They [didn’t] even look Mexican,” he says. He had the walls painted a bold mix of lime green and burnt orange and hung paintings of ripe, rich fruit and vegetables. Some booths are brightly striped like a Mexican serape, with greens, yellows, reds, blues, and whites. The place looks pretty spiffy, but Angel isn’t satisfied. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” he says.

Angel says his prices are about the same as Los Tres Amigos, with entrees ranging from $9 to $13, but there are more items, and the taste is a little different because the seasonings are homemade. The food and margarita recipes are El Camino Real’s. “It’s something the people really went for [in] Toledo,” Angel says, “and I kept everything the same.”

Manager Alex Caballero, a holdover from Los Tres Amigos’, says the menu is completely different, although you wouldn’t necessarily know that to look at the food. He notes that Mexican food looks pretty much the same in any restaurant you go to. It’s the same ingredients, and often the same presentation. The difference lies in what you don’t see. “Every [Mexican] restaurant has different salsas and seasonings,” he says. “It’s just different textures and taste.”

Angel, fifty-four, was born in Mexico and came to the USA when he was fourteen. Formerly a die setter at GM, he took early retirement in 2001 after twenty-eight years with the company. He’d never worked in restaurants, but his wife Guillermina’s family has been in the business for twenty years, and her brother, Felipe Ortiz, is Angel’s business partner. And he did have experience cooking and serving Mexican food: “For the last thirty years I’ve been going to festivals and setting up booths and selling food,” he says. He does that as his hobby, and donates the profits to charity.

El Camino Real, 625 Hilton Boulevard, 327–0500. Sun.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m.