Restaurant Name: Rancho Réal
Location: 1803 County Road 350 South Lafayette, IN (map it)
Phone: (765) 474-6309
Hours: Mon & Sun: 7-3, Tues-Sun: 7-3 & 5-10
Review: I saw in the Journal & Courier that there was a new Mexican Restaurant on Lafayette’s south side, so clearly this was something that I needed to inspect immediately! The article detailed how it wasn’t your run of the mill Mexican food, but unique food from all of Mexico’s 32 states. This definitely sounded right up my alley. It’s located in the strip mall at 350 and 18th Street, right where Julie’s Ranch House used to be.
When we pulled up, we were a little concerned because by looking through the windows, we could see nice glasses on the tables and cloth napkins. We’d brought the kids, so I was a little worried that maybe this was more upscale than I was thinking and not really that child friendly. We decided to risk it and went ahead in. It seemed to be the same layout as it was with Julie’s, with either some of the same decor or at least similar decor. Different, yet same. We were greeted by a friendly hostess who immediately showed us to a booth and gave us all menus and presented the children with their own children’s menu. Sponsored by Kraft. (No, that is not a joke.)
While there were cloth napkins and nice glasses on the table, the upscale vibe was a little negated when a red basket of chips was placed on our table. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some chips and salsa. But I think if you are aiming for upscale, red plastic chip baskets aren’t it. On one hand, it’s a Mexican restaurant and people expect chips and salsa, so maybe they chose to just give people what they expect. On the other hand, since they aren’t really serving the typical kind of Mexican food that we Yankees are accustomed, perhaps the chips and salsa aren’t necessary. I will say though that the chips were absolutely excellent. Whether homemade or not I cannot say, I would lean toward yes, but really tasty. Salsa was decent, although could have used a bit more spice. Good though.
The Kraft Kid’s Menu (can you tell I am not a fan?) had normal kid fare of hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and, get this, macaroni and cheese. All served with french fries. So maybe not the most nutritious meal, but most kids will probably find something they like. (And the kid’s menu is really cheap.)
The regular menu was really different from what you normally see in Mexican restaurants. They had a traditional section, with enchiladas and fajitas, but it’s very small. The rest of the menu contained entrees such as Pollo en Mole Poblano and Arrachera Mexicana conchorizo y guacamole and lots of other things I can’t pronounce really well. (After four years of high school Spanish too! Making my school proud.) It took a while to decide because there were just so many different choices. I love interesting choices!
I immediately discounted anything on the traditional menu and dove into the chicken choices. I ordered Pollo Relleno con Chorizo y Salsa Verde, which is described as tender chicken breast stuffed with chorizo sausage, goat cheese, fine herbs, and finished with salsa verde. Served with mashed potatoes and rice. Interesting, I had to try. My husband ordered Arrachera Mexicana con Chorizo y Guacamole, described as marinated skirt steak and chorizo sausage with our fresh guacamole. Served with rice and beans.
Interesting pretty much describes my meal. You can tell by the picture, it was huge. Just an enormous hunk of chicken. Underneath the chicken was the chorizo and under that was the rice. Around the edges you can see the fancy pants potatoes. I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like, until tonight. I’m on the fence as to whether they were real or fake, although I found a few lumps so I’m going to call them real. But mostly, they were flavorless. So after a few bites I skipped on to the chicken. The chicken was fine, nothing spectacular but the chorizo was excellent. I tend to shy away from chorizo, it’s a little hot for me generally, but it was really quite good. Not too spicy, but with lots of flavor. When you combined that with the chicken and the salsa verde, it was an interesting combination and I liked it. I even liked the rice, and I’m generally not a fan of Mexican rice. While I didn’t try his food (what was I thinking?) my husband reported his meal was very good.
The menu had all sorts of other things including lamb, salads, and seafood too. They also offer breakfast and lunch, and I think the breakfast menu looks intriguing. (Although I will not be trying the Oreo pancakes.)
The service was really good. I wasn’t expecting it to be, usually new restaurants are just learning the ropes and struggle but they seemed to be doing pretty well. The restaurant wasn’t packed, but it certainly wasn’t empty. Our waters were refilled frequently, as were our chips and salsa. I found the staff very friendly and helpful.
Overall, I would say it wasn’t outstanding, but has potential. I’ll definitely give this one another go.
Kid friendly: Yes.
Cost: Breakfast ranges from $3.99 to $8.99. Lunch from $6.99 – $8.99. Dinner from $7.99 – $17.99.