Eat a burrito

Mi Ranchito’s burritos got a unanimous thumbs up from our panel of experts.

Mi Ranchito’s burritos got a unanimous thumbs up from our panel of experts.

Photo By David Robert

My friends Jon and Jamie were visiting from Seattle, and it proved difficult to impress them with the local cultural offerings. My suggestions for film and music events were met with jaded condescension.

“We don’t need to go see the Luis Buñuel films [playing at the Green Room as part of the Great Basin Film Society’s August program],” they said. “We have those kind of events in Seattle all the time.” But, one thing they don’t have is good Mexican food—partly because the Hispanic population is much smaller than Reno’s.

So, along with Jeanne and Julie (for some reason, all my friends have names that start with “J"), we went out to lunch at one of Reno’s best “authentic” Mexican places, Mi Ranchito.

Outside, there’s a painting of an idyllic little ranch with rolling hills and happy cows, an indication of the relaxed pace inside. Besides occasional two-minute bursts from a painfully loud jukebox, the ambiance is quiet and relaxed. Cerveza piñatas dangle from the ceiling, and gnarly, tough bandito paintings hang on bright pink walls.

The first taste at any Mexican place is the chips and salsa. It’s always an accurate indicator of what’s to come. If the salsa is watery and flavorless, it does not bode well for the rest of the meal. The salsa at Mi Ranchito, however, has a great taste and is spicier than most.

When it came time to order, my friends (all vegetarians) ordered the same thing: the vegetarian burrito ($3). There were other veggie-friendly offerings, but the sizable burrito is a great deal: just three clams.

The ordering process took a long time because the waitress wrote out each order in longhand. So it went like this: “I’d like the vegetarian burrito.” Long pause. “I’d also like the vegetarian burrito.” Long pause. And so on.

After this disgusting display of ecofriendliness, I was quick to order my meatier, more exorbitant ($7.95) dish with shameless, demanding gusto: “Bring me the carne asada platter!”

My platter was a huge plate that included pico de gallo, rice, beans, tortillas and huge hunks of meat. The meat was thick and tough—I had to dig in with my canine teeth and found that it was easier to eat while growling. It had a savory flavor and the messy, primal savagery needed to devour it was appealing to me though appalling to my friends. And, because they were able to eat their entire burritos in the time it took me to chew about three bites of the carne asada, much of the meal was spent with these four vegetarians watching me chew.

The large burritos were brimming with fresh ingredients: tomatoes, cilantro, “guac,” rice, beans and lettuce—the usual padding of the mediocre burrito. They were so big that most of the gang ate with their knives and forks, but Julie, a real trooper, ate hers in the correct manner: con las manos. The consensus among the burrito-eaters was that they were excellent. Even Jamie had to admit that it was easily a better burrito than any found in Seattle.

“But all of our other food is far superior,” she was quick to add. It is indeed, some good grub when even the snobs and crybabies have to admit it’s good.