By Denise Ortuno

With almost 30 years of serving delicious Mexican dishes, family owned El Ranchito in the La Quinta Cove keeps their success going, as one of the Coachella Valley’s favorite local restaurants.

I remember when I first went to El Ranchito in La Quinta. It was a couple of years after the restaurant opened, and Old Town La Quinta was nothing like it is now. There were few dining spots around in the La Quinta Cove back then, such as the exclusive Robi’s, Chez Monique’s, and Cunards Sandbar. In the mix of it all, was El Ranchito. I recall driving up to the restaurant which stood relatively alone on Calle Estado back then, and with exception of some grown up shrubbery, it looks pretty much the same today. In the early days, they didn’t have a full bar, and offered beer and wine margaritas. But that has long since changed, and with their full bar, there’s no need for a margarita stand in when you can order the real thing.

One thing that hasn’t changed is their fantastic food. On my recent visit, seated in their airy patio, I was re-introduced to the flavors of El Ranchito. For my starter, I selected their Ceviche Tostada with marinated shrimp in lemon juice, tomato, onion, cucumber, carrots, and cilantro, all served atop a crispy tortilla. First off, the portion was very ample, it’s really enough for two lovers of Ceviche. And if you do love Ceviche, you will adore El Ranchitos. The shrimp were tender and wore the marinade in a refreshing, tart manner. Excellent! Other starters include, Flautas (three rolled flour tortillas, stuffed with shredded beef, served with lettuce and tomato, topped with cheese and sour cream on the side), or their creative take on Chili Gueros (stuffed yellow peppers with a mix of Al Pastor, Carne Asada, and shrimp, topped with melted cheese with mayo and their special sauce on the side), plus many more.

I honestly would have been happy with another order of their Ceviche, but I needed to expand my experience and move on to another selection. I chose a one item combination plate, with their Pork Tamale with rice and beans. The tamale had a respectable masa to meat ratio and came with a side of rich mole sauce for dipping. The accompaniment of their fluffy Mexican style rice and silky smooth, “I want more” refried beans completed the plate.

El Ranchito offers many other menu items, such as a variety of Burritos which include Carne Asada (guacamole and tomatillo sauce), Shrimp (sautéed rice, ranchero salsa, chipotle dressing), Chili Verde (pork slow cooked in tomatillo sauce with beans) and many others. Or try house specialties such as the Carnitas (Michoacán style, with guacamole, rice, beans and tortillas), or Carne Al Chipotle (steak strips simmered in house made chipotle sauce, served with rice, beans and tortillas) just to name a few.

El Ranchito also has breakfast, served all day with selections like Machaca (shredded beef, eggs, bell pepper, onion, rice and beans), Huevos Ranchero (two corn tortillas, two eggs, and ranchero sauce) among other items.

Besides their La Quinta Cove location, El Ranchito also has their Taco Shop spot off of Hwy 111 in the Stater Brothers shopping area in La Quinta. It’s a great place for a quick bite, or to-go food (I love their Grilled Chicken Salad).

There’s no question why El Ranchito has long been a valley favorite. With delicious traditional Mexican food, cozy cove location and family owned dedication, it’s certainly possible that they will be around for another 30 years.

El Ranchito is located at 78-039 Calle Estado, La Quinta

El Ranchito Taco Shop is located at 78-540 Hwy 111, Ste A1-3, La Quinta

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