The other weekend my friend and I were debating where to go to dinner near my place and I suggested either Mexican or sushi and he chose Mexican. That option was El Rancho Grande, which was pretty close-by and I had been to before. It reminds me a lot of the sit-down Mexican restaurants back home in the Pacific Northwest. While it’s not the same as California Mexican it still is pretty good and it’s filling and comforting.
I like that it has a slightly different vibe from places like Mercadito and Rosa Mexicano. At those two places the food is a bit trendy, while El Rancho Grande is a bit more down-to-earth to me like the Mexican I am used to. The standard meat fillings, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, etc. Both types of Mexican are good but it’s nice to have some variety. El Rancho Grande’s space though is still has a nice vibe and atmosphere although a bit less Miami hip than Mercadito and Rosa.
Like a lot of Mexican places you get the chips and salsa at your table. To me it’s a double edge sword because I usually am always starving (I was this time especially!) so the chips tide me over and I don’t get super antsy waiting for my food, but I also tend to fill myself up and always feel super stuffed after every Mexican restaurant visit. Given how hungry we were it was clutch this time. We also started off with an order of the queso fundido (hard to ever pass up a queso). For gluten-frees it came with flour tortillas but I just asked for extra chips to eat it with.
I had been down to do Mexican while we were still deciding because I was really craving some crunchy tacos (which you can’t get at Mercadito or Rosa). Crunchy tacos stuffed with lettuce, cheese, meat, and maybe some sour cream. Nothing overly gourmet or special but just the wholesome Mexican with all the normal flavors combining to complement each other. I got the three tacos with ground beef and they hit the spot exactly like I was looking for. Takes care of the cravings pretty well! Both our meals came with Mexican rice and pinto beans on the side. A lot of people know how much I love rice and beans! The Cuban white rice and black beans is what makes me go crazy, but the rice and beans here still hit the spot!
My friend got the tostadas, which were piled high with toppings, and were also good. On my earlier visits I had gotten things like the nachos and like the other items it’s decent Mexican when you are craving the great combination of meat, cheese, and corn/wheat. In the search for restaurant recommendations around Miami if you’re ever in North Beach and craving decent Mexican then look up El Rancho Grande!
UPDATE: I went the other day to El Rancho Grande with my friends and was super excited to see that they had panuchos on their menu!! I had read about panuchos in an article about future food trends. They are a Yucatan specialty of puffed corn tortillas with black beans inside. I figured it’d be awhile until they made their way to Miami, but I was hoping maybe I’d find them on a trip to LA or something. I was excited to see that they were here just a few blocks away!
Sort of unfortunately the panuchos came out a little bit different than I was expecting. Instead of being inside the puffed tortilla it came out as a layer on top. I thought maybe I had remembered the article incorrectly, but there are many panuchos with black beans on the actual inside (like in this picture). Despite the slight disappointment the panuchos were still really delicious. The puffed tortilla makes it like a flaky and light tostada. At El Rancho Grande it comes with shredded pork on top, which was also really really good. Although I’m hoping to come across a panucho with beans inside sometime soon the one at El Rancho Grande is definitely worth a try. Think it’ll be one of my go-tos on future visits.
UPDATE UPDATE: I just went back the other day (February 2014) and ordered the panucho again, because it had been delicious and as I promised it was going to be one of my go-tos. And this time it came out with beans on the inside of the puffed corn tortilla! I found the fabled panucho!!! It tasted rather similar to the earlier one- the shredded pork is one of my favorite parts- but it was nice to have the black beans on the inside and make it almost like a stuffed pastry. Check out the pics below of an actual panucho!
El Rancho Grande- 314 72nd St Miami Beach, FL