Rancho’s Cocina, North Park
3910 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104
I used to say that I could eat Mexican food every day and enjoy the 7th day as much as I enjoyed the first day. That is not totally true anymore, but I do like Mexican food and eat it often.
Therefore, when you read this review, you might think it sounds familiar. That is because a few days ago I ate at Rancho’s Cocina in Ocean Beach and wrote a review for the OBRag. But today I ate at one of the other restaurants in the Rancho chain – the one in North Park.
As it happened, the San Diego Free Press had a meeting of many of its contributors this afternoon. Following the meeting, 10 of us decided to have a bite to eat and the closest place was Rancho’s. They were able to accommodate us in the back part of the restaurant without any problem.
It was interesting to note how much smaller this facility is than the one in Ocean Beach. Probably half the size of the OB one. It was also interesting to note that the menu was slightly different. Where the OB menu has a very large ala carte menu, this menu did not have the same feature. I would venture to guess that the North Park venue has all of the items found on the OB menu, but the OB menu has many items that North Park does not have.
When seated we were given the customary chips and salsa. At OB the salsa comes in a jar and we are given individual serving cups; here the salsa was in a larger container and we dipped our chips into that container. There were 3 put on our tables, and centered so that all of us had adequate access to them. We were all given a glass of water while we looked at the menu.
Our waitress, a delightful lady, was very patient with us while we made our decisions. There were 4 beers ordered at first – a 5th one ordered later on; I have been craving a good margarita and ordered one, only to find out that they do not have a liquor license and what I was served was a wine margarita. It was ok – but fell short of what I wanted. Another member of our group did not order a drink because she, too, wanted something alcoholic.
I am not going to list all of the various entrees we selected but entrees consisted of shrimp enchilada; mole chicken enchilada; wild salmon burrito; bean burrito, etc. Suffice it to say that no one had any complaints about their meal. On the other hand, no one was ecstatic about their meal either.
At best, the one word I heard repeated by almost everyone was “mediocre”. Comments were made about how “gringoized” it was; it needed more spice; it could have been hotter – temperature wise – etc. There is no question that the meal was satisfying – just not spectacular.
As always, in my reviews, I try to point out areas that I think could be changed. I want to say, again, that our waitress was good. Taking care of 10 people at one time is not an easy task. However, one end of the table asked for more chips and they were brought to them. The rest of us did not ask for more – even though our bowls were empty – and we did not receive a refill. Refills of the chips should have been brought to all of us. Our glasses of water were not refilled until just before we were ready to leave. It wasn’t the waitress that refilled those glasses; it was someone else, and he could/should have filled them before they were empty.
After all, the salsa was spicy and water would have been a welcome relief. A rather funny thing happened when the waitress took a plate away from one of our people even though he was not finished with his meal. She did give it back to him, but the look on his face was priceless as it was whisked away while he was talking to a neighbor.
There was one thing that was called to my attention, however, that I find very disturbing. It seems that children’s boosters and high chairs are kept in the female bathroom. I, for one, would not want to have my children, or grandchildren, sitting on a booster or highchair that had been stored in the bathroom. I can’t imagine the germs that must fly around that room onto those chairs. I really am sickened at the thought.
All in all the meal was enjoyable; perhaps that is because of the camaraderie of those of us eating together. We are all working towards the same goal, and it was nice to get together and discuss other things without any deadline pressure.
The total bill, with an 18% tip added in, came to $102. That is not bad for ten people, even though one person only had a bottle of beer and 5 others only had water. Would I go back? Maybe. There are several Mexican restaurants in the area, and I would like to try those first. And for goodness sake: get the boosters and high chairs out of the women’s bathroom.