18 February, 2010

El Rancho Grande

Great Mexican can be hard to find. West Providence boasts a large central American population. El Rancho Grande is a culinary gem in this ethnic neighborhood. Inside, it reminds you of a Grandmother's kitchen, simple yet cozy. Since Chef Maria is a grandmotherly figure, the environment worked. Parking was the only issue, though we parked across the street in the Walgreens' parking lot.

Me and my wife sat down for a nice mid-afternoon dinner. We started with the complimentary basket of chips and salsa. Normally, you get jarred salsa and stale chips, but El Rancho Grande provided delicious fresh corn chips and a fresh, tasty salsa. Both made a great start to the meal. Next followed a normal salad of lettuce, onion, and tomato.

We then enjoyed the chicken quesadilla for the appetizer. Chef Maria stuffed it with shredded chicken, cojito and mozzarella cheese. A nice pico de gallo (very fresh salsa with tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro) accompanied an interesting cream sauce to make an enjoyable course.

Our entrees came out with a nice stack of fresh corn tortillas. My wife ordered the carne asada, thin-sliced sirloin wonderfully seasoned and very tender. I order one of Maria's specialties, her Pollo al Guajillo (Chicken in a pepper sauce). The chicken, also thin-sliced, mixed perfectly with the rich red sauce. The chicken went perfectly in the corn tortilla with the lime-marinated radishes and onions. Both meals came with rice and beans. My wife really enjoyed the flavored rice and I enjoyed the refried beans (topped with more of the delicious cojito cheese).

Everything was wonderful and delicious. El Rancho Grande served one of my favorite Mexican meals I have had. Often Mexican served tastes more like it should have come out of a Taco Bell (and often, Taco Bell is tastier). Chef Maria, que delicioso! El Rancho Grande has a full website including directions and their menu.

El Rancho Grande on Urbanspoon

Rating: A

15 February, 2010

Spike's Junkyard Dogs

Hot Dogs are quickly becoming 'real food' to true connoisseurs. Many long scoffed at hot dogs for poor ingredients and simple toppings. Newer breeds have higher quality meat and better toppings on actual rolls. That's not to say a good old-fashioned hot dog with a shot of mustard, but everyone wants a high quality hot dog for a meal. I previously reviewed Larry Joe's Fire pit, arguably one of the best hot dogs in the north east. Spike's Junkyard Dogs have taken the title of best chain hot dog.

I stopped into the North Providence shop. Despite the name (Junkyards aren't haute couture), everything was clean. I ordered a Chili & Cheddar along with a Ball Park Dog. The Chili and Cheddar was topped with... well Chili and Cheddar. The Chili was tasty, but had too many beans, while cheese was a nice layer of melted Vermont cheddar. The Ball Park dog featured a normal mustard, nice fresh chopped onions (I noticed a large bag hanging in the kitchen), and another layer of the nice cheddar. Both featured a nicely baked bun that was anything but generic, while the dog itself tasted like a Kayem. A nice little meal of two of my favorite Dogs, and I was pleased.

Spikes offered nice bread, toppings, and a clean interior. The chili was rather normal, and the hot dog tasted generic. The price, while cheap, did not inspire me to spend more for otherwise decent hot dogs.

Spike's menu and locations can be found on their website.

Spike's Junkyard Dogs on Urbanspoon

Rating: B

About Me

Rhode Island, United States
I am a lover of Food. I review restaurants, markets, snacks, wine, beer, and spirits. Life is too short to eat bad food.