Food & Drink

El Rancho Taqueria Satisfies Your Taco Craving

Kristi Maier | @triadfoodies
CHOW-Crunchy Beef Taco
This is the story ….er…review of the little Mexican joint that could. And did.

A few months back some friends recommended to me what they considered the best tacos in the area. They said that El Rancho Taqueria was by far the most authentic style tacos in the city, but in the most unexpected location. I was intrigued. Of course my family and I love hearing about new places, especially holes-in-the-wall.

El Rancho Taqueria is but a short drive from downtown but worlds apart from what we can find in Winston-Salem’s culinary scene.

CHOW-Shrimp Taco

 

For sure, in this the City of Arts and Innovation, and where some consider to be the most promising burgeoning dining scene on the East Coast, Winston-Salem is also thought to be lacking in ethnic choices. It’s still true for Mexican. There are plenty of Mexican-style restaurants, but how authentic are they? That’s debatable. The typical cheese-laden unlimited tortilla chips kind of places don’t really count.

El Rancho Taqueria is located at 613 East Sprague Street. Quite unassuming and simple, it doesn’t look like much from the outside but the full parking lot should indicate to the curious that it’s no joke. There’s very limited seating. In fact, on a recent busy Friday night, my family of four was greeted politely and quickly and we were ushered into what appeared to be the other dining area that has a wall lined with shelves filled with supplies. It was brightly lit but it was quite clear that people don’t come here for the ambiance.

CHOW-Crunchy Beef Taco

On the first go round, I was in the mood for tacos. Just tacos. I had heard that’s what El Rancho does best. Looking at the menu, there are plenty of tortas, tostadas and entrees as well, with a variety of protein choices, like chicken, pork and beef (ground, steak) and even beef tongue and other organs and seafood choices.

Tacos are available a la carte or as an entree of four. I ordered the tacos and went “combo” style with two shrimp and two carnitas (fried pork). My tacos were simply served with a lime wedge, roasted jalapeño pepper and topped with thinly sliced radishes and cilantro. Truth be told that is my favorite way to top a taco. I still can’t decide which of my tacos was my favorite. I love carnitas and anything resembling a pork taco. But the shrimp was definitely super-fresh and tasty. Another highly recommended item is the Chalupa and my husband ordered beef and devoured both. A Chalupa looks like a taco but the flatbread wrapping it is quite crisp and flakey. The kiddos each ordered a kids version of crunchy tacos and simply ordered beef with a side of rice. This kind of taco is a slight departure from the mass produced crescent shaped deal that comes from a box or is served at any other Mexican place I’ve visited. These are freshly fried corn tortillas and they have a very rustic appearance. And they are amazing, so the fact that the littlest one was unimpressed, is par for the course. The eldest really enjoyed her taco.

CHOW-quesadilla

On another occasion, I opted for the chicken quesadilla and it was very meaty, cheesy with a perfectly prepared flour tortilla and just the right texture. We did not order chips the first time, but this time we did and they were piping hot and outstanding, served with a rich, freshly made salsa. We can’t recommend the chips enough, but you will be paying a small price for them. Totally worth it.

Service both times was prompt, attentive and very courteous. We noticed diners came from all walks of life. A mix of English and Spanish speaking customers filled both rooms. There was a table of eight next to us and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. Though the website is only in Spanish, our server was bilingual and incredibly helpful with the menu. Just as many customers were ordering take-out and that seems to be a popular option at El Rancho.

CHOW-Carnitas Taco

El Rancho has the kind of tacos that I imagine all those lucky Californians are ordering. Certainly better than the tacos I had even in Mexico 10 years ago (but that’s another story). Beautiful, fresh, soft tortillas with really simple ingredients on top of a flavorful filling. Not a lot of fuss, just authentic goodness that is very satisfying.

We highly suggest giving El Rancho a try. Bring your friends or family, order a smattering of items and just nosh your way through the menu. You’ll be incredibly pleased and we think it will become a restaurant that’s added to your “go-to” list.

Wanna go? El Rancho Taqueria is located at 613 East Sprague Street, Winston-Salem just off of US 52. Visit www.elranchotacos.com for more information.

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