As un mariachi once sang, "alla en el rancho grande, alla donde vivia, habia una rancherita, que alegra me decia." In English this means, "go to El Rancho Grande, that's where I live, in the small room in the back, under the stairs." Freddie Fender and Roger Creager have similar stories (check a lyrics website).
So, like my parents taught me, I obeyed the random mariachi and went to El Rancho Grande (spanish for "The Ranch Big"). Mi esposa y yo decided to check out The Ranch Big on a recent Friday evening. As many of you may remember, I'm somewhat of a fan of its neighbor, El Asadero (spanish for "the Asadero"). So I had low expectations for The Ranch Big. I'm happy to say that it easily surpassed that low bar.
I'll start with the chips and salsa because it was probably my favorite part of the meal. If you like the greasy nature of Mexican Inn chips, you'll like these. They're greasy but regular sized. They're also thin and crispy. The salsa is also very good and has un piquito spice. It works well with a Bohemia (is there a way to get paid for plugs like that?).
Mi esposa had the fajita nachos and they were good. If you haven't had fajita nachos and need a description... stop reading this blog.
Just kidding. I really need the attention of hits.
I ordered the comida de los perros. Others call it Carne Guisada, but I'll admit, they look similar. Just recently I became a fan of comida de los perros. When it is spicy, a couple chunks of that tender meat on a soft corn tortilla is pure heaven. When its not spicy, you can add some hot sauce and it can still be good. When its not tender though, you might as well eat dog food. The guisada was tender here. So I ate it. My only complaint was that it was a little bland. It was actually too bland to be fixed with the hot sauce. Plus, the beans were a bit bland.
However, I must admit that Carne Guisada is not the best test dish for a new Mexican restaurant. I'm a strong believer that beef enchiladas with the restaurant's chili/red sauce, rice and beans are the perfect test. The reason being is that you can always trust beef enchiladas and if a restaurant can't make them, it can't make anything. You should always trust a place before eating Carne Guisada because "carne" does not mean "beef". Always remember that.
Anyways, the Carne Guisada sufficed but I would probably not order it again at The Ranch Big.
What did set this place apart from all others was the service. Our waiter was attentive, caring and ridiculously happy. I used to work at a Mexican restaurant and even when I was stealing food, I was never as happy as this guy was, just serving us. Of course, I can understand. Its probably quite an honor to serve an anonymous blogger who has nothing of substance to say.
All in all, I'd eat at El Asadero if somebody gave me the choice, or if I was near it, or if it was open and I thought about it randomly, or after I had finished eating at The Ranch Big. But if a group of people wanted to go The Ranch Big, I wouldn't complain. The food is decent, the service is great and the carne appeared to be beef.
The Ranch Big is located on Main Street, just south of Awesome (El Asadero) and has cops there on Friday nights. I don't know why that last part is important, but it probably is.
Let me know if you agree/disagree.