March 22, 2013

El Rancho Spanish Restaurant

El Rancho Spanish Restaurant
11810 87 Street NW
Edmonton, AB T5B 0T1
(780) 471-4930

The mother of one of my oldest & dearest friends immigrated from central America, and, growing up, her house was often full of visiting relatives. Her family became like family to me, and I referred to to her grandmother as "Abuelita". Abuelita was not impressed with the food available in our local supermarket, so, when she was visiting, so you could count on finding a kitchen full of homemade food. Abuelita taught me how to make corn tortillas, and got me hooked on empanadas, tamales, coliflor envuelta en huevo, and pupusas. After moving to Edmonton, it took me about 12 hours before I found a restaurant to get my fix.

Full disclosure: I love pupusas. No, really. I love pupusas. My first stop at Edmonton's Heritage Festival is always the pupusa tent, and the last time I visited taste of Edmonton, nothing looked as good as the pupusas, so I just spent all my tickets on them. The Taste of Edmonton pupusas were, in fact, served by El Rancho, and when I visited the restaurant itself, I started with a couple to get my fix. The pupusas were handmade, with a thin layer of filling inside the corn flour tortilla. My favorite is the cheese, bean, and pork blend (the revuelta) but other filling combinations are available. After loading them up with curtido (a cabbage slaw) and a thin & mild tomato salsa, I chowed down and was in heaven.

Our entrees arrived not long after we'd polished off the pupusas. The mole sauce was thick with a deep flavor. While palate-pleasing, I did feel the enchiladas were close to drowning in it. The accompanying El Rancho salad was an unanticipated hit. It was drizzled, sparingly but adequate, in a dressing with a complex nutty flavor reminiscent of the mole.

I rarely find burrito-sized corn flour tortillas locally, so I was really impressed that it was an option for the burrito al carbon. The tortilla itself was delicious, but even better wrapped around the the steak, pepper, bean and guacamole amalgam.

Though I didn't order it at this visit, their tortilla soup is really wonderful pick-me-up on a cold winter day, and the tamales are the best I've found in Edmonton so far. El Rancho was one of the first restaurants I visited when I moved to Edmonton, and, though it's hard to compare anything to Abuelita's cooking, with so many fresh, delectable offerings to discover, its kept me coming back.

El Rancho Spanish Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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