The Short Course
To avoid wait: Weekend nights can be very busy; reservations available for over 7 people
Noise level: Moderate to loud
Bathroom amenities: Changing station
High chairs? Yes
Got milk? Yes
Kids’ menu? Yes, and half price on Sundays. Also, most adult menu items available in kid size portion
There is just something about Mexican restaurants that always seem to exude a “good time vibe”. It may be the brightly colored décor, lively music or, perhaps, the tequila plays a role in that as well. For many reasons, El Camino Real has been a fan favorite around Toledo for years.
El Camino Real, a staple for good times and good food since 2002, has a main location at Sylvania and Douglas (in the old Timko’s Soup N Such for those of you who have been in the area for a long, long time). The owner, Jesus Angel, originally from Jalisco Mexico, also owns El Camino Real Sky in Oregon, and co-owns La Chalupa in Point Place. According to manager and owner’s nephew, Rafael Angel, “Everything here is homemade. All the recipes are family recipes.” Rafael, also from Jalisco, has called Toledo home for many years.
Fan favorite year after year
Toledo City Paper readers have voted El Camino Real the Best Authentic Mexican, Best Patio, and Best Margaritas 14 years in a row!
The restaurant is rather large with a variety of seating options – small semi enclosed areas with a few booths, long tables, round tables, etc. The atmosphere is very lively, colorful, and makes you feel like you may actually be in Mexico!
We were there on a Saturday evening and were seated rather quickly. However, I have waited on busy weekend nights, as well. Reservations are available for parties of seven or more. They have a fabulous patio, which is packed every weekend when the weather is nice.
According to Rafael, they have live music every other Thursday and in the summer guests are entertained by live bands and DJs on the patio. The upbeat atmosphere is also conducive to celebrating your birthday! You’ll don a sombrero and receive a shot (if over 21). The kids and non- drinkers are served fried ice cream, on the house.
Options and portions abound
At El Camino it may be difficult to not only decide what to order, but also to actually finish your dinner. To-go boxes are for sure, and make for a great lunch the next day. They do offer a rather large kids’ menu that ranges from $4-$7, with options including Mexican fare as well as standbys like chicken tenders and burgers. Children eat for half price on Sundays, one child for each full price entree. Little known fact: Rafael said any item on the menu can be made in a kid size portion. I know there are adventurous younger eaters out there, so if they don’t want the basic burrito let them try something new!
Of course we had to start the meal with homemade guacamole. You would have thought my three kids hadn’t eaten in days the way they devoured it. I have always loved their appetizer Armando’s Brothers Pizza. At almost $15 it is pretty much a meal and I split it with my youngest. The pizza is two grilled tortillas stuffed with fajita shrimp, chicken and steak as well as peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Don’t forget the refried beans, pico de gallo, cheese, and sour cream. Of course I loved it. It’s several meals in one!
My friend enjoyed the Piña Los Cabos with shrimp. It was served in half a pineapple and almost looked too good to dig into! Delicious, it made for great leftovers the following day. My poor daughter had recently had her wisdom teeth removed so she kept it simple with refried beans and a cheese quesadilla. I did kind of feel bad for her! My oldest son loved their Enchiladas Verdes. His plate was covered with three cheese enchiladas topped with shredded beef and green tomatillo sauce and rice and beans on the side. Somehow he polished it off. We left with full bellies and to-go boxes. That should hold us over until our next trip back!
El Camino’s middle name could easily be “fun”. The service was fast and friendly and the food and margaritas were very good. Besides offering the basic kids menu your adventurous eaters may order anything from the main menu and ask for it in kid size portion. Kids also eat half price off the kids’ menu on Sundays. At El Camino, every day can feel like a perfect day for a fiesta!
El Camino Real, 2500 W. Sylvania Ave. | 419-472-0700