Mi Ranchito500 Denslowe Dr.
Reno, NV 89512
Since beginning to write restaurant reviews a few months ago, I have waited what seems like an eternity to review a Mexican restaurant, fearful of unleashing the floodwaters. You see, for me, Mexican food is like a soft frayed blanket to a small child’s face. I eat the stuff as much as I can, for love of the beans, cheese, tortillas and, of course, the sauces. I just wish I could convince my wife that you can enjoy a vast diversity of meals within this one country’s offerings. For this reason, I sneak lunches at Mi Ranchito once a week.
Mi Ranchito is on Valley Road at the end of a light-pink-colored strip mall, right next to the Tienda El Guicho. At the end of a particularly miserable week, I took a long lunch break with friends Dustin, Jeff and Matt. The Mi Ranchito staff never changes, which I like. It consists of a pleasant waitress, who’s always quick on the orders and cares enough to ask if everything is OK before you take the first bite, and the cook/owner from Michoacán, who turns out spicy and delicious plates.
My all-time favorite is the wet chicken burrito with red sauce ($6). It’s all too much for someone with a desk job: rice, beans and chicken, covered in a smoky red sauce. However, this time I ordered the enchilada plate ($8) and horchata ($1.50). Dustin ordered the camarones al mojo de ajo ($9.50), Matt the camarones a la diabla ($9.50), and Jeff the chile relleno ($9). Jeff’s dish came out a little rough—two flaccid chiles and what looked like a cheese superfund site when he called it quits.
Dustin’s plate was heavy on shrimp, toasted garlic and onion. When asked to elaborate on the plate while cramming down his last bites, he said, “You can’t fuck up butter and garlic.”
Well, adding lousy shrimp would be the first step, but the shrimp in both his and Matt’s dishes were large and tender. I had two bites of Matt’s meal, which didn’t prick my tongue much, but by the end, he was wiping his forehead off with a napkin. The diabla sauce has a strong chipotle flavor and a creeping fiery aftertaste. Combined, Matt and Dustin received nine flour tortillas with which to scoop up their shrimp, and in Matt’s case, quash a little mouth fire. My plate, as did all the others, came with flavorful refried bean and rice sides. At first, I thought the red sauce topping my enchiladas too sweet, but that subsided with each bite as I mixed it with some peppery guacamole and savory chunks of grilled chicken.
Meetings in the afternoon kept me from getting drunk at lunch. So I had to wait until after work to try out the drinking ambience of Mi Ranchito. Their porch area is haggard but has a lot of potential. The Negra Modelos my friend Jerry and I had tasted all the better while watching the sunset over the cars decaying in Valencia’s auto cemetery and an active community where people were actually out and about. Aside from my couch, this is the most relaxing place I’ve had a beer in some time.