Mi Ranchito offers something different amid Durango’s Mexican food scene

by Nick Gonzales

With over a dozen restaurants or so within city limits, Durango isn’t exactly hurting for Mexican cuisine. Then again, the more the merrier. Almost all of them have a different take on the fare of our neighbors to the south, weaving different flavors into the tapestry that makes up our food scene.

Mi Ranchito Family Restaurant, located on the west 100 block of College Drive, where BREW Pub & Kitchen used to be, isn’t new in the strictest sense. Its owner, Jaime Lariz, was also responsible for San Marcos Mexican Restaurant out west on U.S. Highway 160 and No Way Jose’s further up Main Avenue downtown. Nevertheless, we decided to drop in for lunch one day and check it out.

You can often judge the quality of a Mexican restaurant by the salsa that arrives at your table the moment you sit down. Mi Ranchito’s seemed like a pretty basic red, but it easily passed the test, with some chiles in there packing some noticeable heat.

My dining companion chose to abstain – it was still pretty early in the day – while I ordered a margarita. As a concession to the rather arbitrary position of the sun in the sky, I got the regular margarita, which unlike the house margarita, also contains orange juice. The extra flavor adds a pleasant kick, and I think it deserves your consideration as a brunch drink alongside mimosas.

As for our meals, my assistant got the Mi Ranchito Burrito – a flour tortilla filled with skirt steak, grilled green chile, and refried beans and topped with green sauce. He found the green chile mild but flavorful and said the peppers added a lot to the tangy green sauce. The steak was a thinner cut than a typical carne asada, very tender and lightly spiced. I think he enjoyed it.

Meanwhile, I got the lunch special of the day, mole enchiladas. Mole is easily one of my favorite elements of Mexican cuisine and it’s fascinating to see different cooks churn out different variations of it. The term mole refers loosely to a number of different sauces, not just the chocolaty mole poblano your average gabacho is familiar with. Even just within Durango, some restaurants have a very sweet mole while others have a sauce that leans hard into smoky ancho chiles.

Mi Ranchito’s mole was bright red, tangy, and acidic in a very citrusy sort of way. It was a wonderful surprise – the worry is always that a place will default to the stereotype. The chicken enchiladas themselves were an excellent delivery vehicle for the sauce, and I’d definitely keep any eye out for the sandwich board advertising this special again.

If you’re interested in checking the place out, you’re about to have a wider timespan to do so. When the restaurant first opened, Lariz said he’d start keeping it open late, and it sounds like he’s going to keep that promise. The restaurant will be open until 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday during Snowdown and then every Friday and Saturday going forward.

For more information, check out Mi Ranchito on Facebook or call (970) 422-8514.Nick Gonzales

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