Optimistically Cautious

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cooly Authentic: El Rancho Spanish Restaurant

A few friends and I had supper at El Rancho Spanish Restaurant (11810-87 Street) on Saturday night to celebrate one friend's professional milestone.

Both the covert location (tucked away in a northside neighborhood) and the authenticity of the food can lead one to label El Rancho with the coveted "gem" status. With salmon-colored walls, a small dining room, and cozy burnished tables, the thought of being in grandma's kitchen was not far away. Upbeat Spanish-language music played in the background, functioning well as festive background noise (at least until they switched to Shakira. Blech).

The menu prices were very reasonable, and encourage the sampling and sharing of dishes. Still, I think my entree, the Enchilada Mexicana (corn tortilla filled with chicken garnished with tomato sauce), served with both rice and salad proved to be the largest dish out of all we ordered and hence the best deal. Also, on my next trip, I should make a note to ask about the dressing - probably olive-oil based, it had a nutty flavor unlike anything else I've ever had. My only nitpick - I wanted the dish to be served warmer, if not only to combat the cold air streaming in from the poorly insulated walls and window!

Hands down, best part of our meal that night was the dessert! We split a Tres Leches (three milks cake) and the Pan del Dia (pastry of the day), which happened to be Choco Flan (isn't that fun to say?!). The Tres Leches, soaked in milk, evaporated milk and condensed milk, was my favorite. Not as sweet as the waitress had warned, the cake was moist and light, the perfect partner to the round of Abuelita Hot Chocolate we had ordered as well. It was probably the cold talking, but the cocoa-based concoction was delicious!

El Rancho will be having a "Latino Christmas" celebration on December 1, with a set dinner for $25 per person. Whether you head to the restaurant on that occasion or on another day, it is definitely worth a try!

El Rancho Spanish Restaurant

Dining room

Flautas Mexicanas (three rolled golden fried tortillas stuffed with chicken, carrots and onions, topped with shredded lettuce, sour cream, and El Rancho sauce)

Burrito al Carbon (a flour tortilla stuffed with grilled beef with fried beans, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, garnished with salad)

Enchilada Mexicana

Tres Leches and Choco Flan

Abuelita Hot Chocolate


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