Monday, April 30, 2012
Lunch at Mi Ranchito II, 4.28.2012
Art and I bopped down to Mi Ranchito II, at the very end of Manchaca Rd, on FM 1626 for a book meeting (the one we are writing and the one we want to be writing) this past Saturday. Mi Ranchito II has been one of our top five Austin spots for authentic Mexican food for over a year now. The others are El Taco Rico, La Fruta Feliz, Taco More, and Rosita's al Pastor (for pastor tacos). But this isn't about them, it's about Ranchito Two. Ranchito One is on Wm Cannon at Pleasant Valley, taking up a cramped half of a gas station/ice house interior, behind depressing burglar bars. Ranchito Two is much larger (but still not huge) with a bigger menu and better parking...plus, it's a lot closer to far south Austin, and NOT on the dreaded and heavy traffic-prone Wm.Cannon Blvd. I'd rather poke my eyes out with a dull stick than go through the intersection of Wm. Cannon and IH 35 to get to Ranchito Uno, and then you'll prolly have to wait for a table.
EVERYTHING I have tasted at Ranchito Two has been excellent, and though purist detractors like R.L. carp about the tortillas not being hand-patted before your eyes, R Two still manages to put out amazing food. Truth be told, if they aren't gonna make their own tortillas, I'd love to see them start getting them from Tortilleria Rio Grande #2 on Cannon, just east of South 1st....they have excellent tortillas and totopos. I digress......
One of the better things about Ranchito Two is the salsa bar. They have two versions of the classic jalapeño and avocado green salsa, with one of them being incendiary and the other a little more tame. They have a couple of reds, one the typical moderately spicy casera-style house red, and a smoky charred red with elevated heat levels. There is a new red that they have in a smaller container that's dark, complex, and delish, and then they have the requisite pico de gallo (with lots of spicy chile in it), and limes. You serve your self at the salsa bar.
Art opted for a brace of carnitas tacos and a gringa al pastor. Their carinitas and pastor are both really good. The gringa is a quesadilla-like unit loaded with pastor meat and cheese (although it can be any of the meats they offer: picadillo, carnitas, pastor, carne asado, chorizo, tongue, deshrebada, suadero/rib, barbacoa, fajita, etc. etc etc.).
I went for my ole stalwart: the pork with green salsa platter, which also comes with some manteca-ized refried beans, rich rice, and a salad topped with avocado slices. The green sauce is excellent, more green chiles and herbs than tomatillo, and the braised pork always melts in the mouth. I couldn't pass up a chorizo and nopalito taco as well. The seconds shot is after I have applied my salsa, to jazz it up even more. That plate explodes with flavor. So good.......
They have added combo plates now that have their plump chile relleno on them. The burgers are really meaty and juicy, and the tamales (available now in savory and sweet versions) are incredible: well-stuffed in a casing of masa as light as a cloud. They sell a lot of tamales. They sell a lot because they are so good. The enchiladas come in sets of three, smothered with savory sauce. The caldo de res is really chunky, meaty, and rich, and the sopes, huaraches, and gorditas excel. For breakfast egg and machacada, or chorizo and nopalito tacos, or a platter of migas for me. I've never eaten anything here that I didn't love. It's a friendly, family-run operation, and our go-to spot in the neighborhood.
Mi Ranchito II
1105 Fm 1626 (@ Manchaca)
Mick Vann ©