Kristy Alpert’s latest report on where you can find great food for less than eight dollars.
This week I headed to Oak Cliff to find one of my favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants. I can’t even remember its name but I knew where to go. I’ve been living out of Dallas for a while but that didn’t soften the blow when I looked up to find my beloved dive is now another location of Ojedas. We decided to turn around and hit El Ranchito, the lively Tex-Mex with a touch of Monterrey restaurant run by owners Oscar and Laura Sanchez who also operate two locations of Calle Doce.
Jump for cheap lunch.
We opened the door and were welcomed by the smell of warm tortillas, freshly hand-made in the tortilla station. It wasn’t but a minute after we were seated that our waiter brought us fresh tortilla chips and individual bowls of salsa (I love when restaurants do that!). Painted clay vases lined the shelves behind multi-colored paper lanterns hung from the exposed wood-beam ceiling, and the décor truly showcased Texan and Mexican flare with bright painted chairs on the floor and Mavs jerseys framed on the walls (Dal-Mex, maybe?).
After grazing on chips and salsa (heavy on the cilantro, a huge plus in my book), our food came out piping hot. Sometimes it’s a great thing when food doesn’t photograph well, and in this case, the fact that neither of these dishes look appetizing on camera is a great thing. My friend ordered the cheese enchilada special ($5.99) based on her theory that the best way to judge a place is to see how they handle the basics. Her platter was a hot mess, in the best sense of the phrase. The picture looks revolting, but every bite was delicious. It came with two cheese enchiladas in homemade corn tortillas, smothered with a chili-gravy sauce with cheese and accompanied by buttery-smooth refried beans and Spanish rice.
I ordered the #4 Tex-Mex lunch special ($7.50) that came with a soft cheese taco in a homemade corn tortilla drenched in a cheese sauce, a chicken mole enchilada, and a side of Spanish rice. While the cheese taco was authentic “old-school” Tex-Mex, the enchilada was covered with a thick black sauce with a subtle perfect blend of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors which enhanced loads of seasoned, shredded chicken inside the fresh corn tortilla. Definitely recommend this to your friends on your next lunch out to this place.
Overall: This place is popular, festive, and satisfying. I could see this being on a regular rotation for lunch groups; and judging by the tables full of Dallas County Police “people,” it’s already a regular stop for most people craving authentic Tex-Mex. Not only do they have a ton of lunch specials for way less than eight bucks, but most of their regular menu items fall below the mark as well, from tortas and hamburguesas Mexicanas to Mexican salad and chalupas.
610 West Jefferson Ave., Dallas, 75208
Well Dishers? Where should I go next for my $8 lunch?