5359 Winchester Road
We're pretty versed in the Mexican fare available in Midtown and along Summer Avenue and Macon Road. After noticing the ads for Rancho Grande in the Flyer, we decided to head over to Winchester and check it out. (I have a feeling there are all sorts of treasures over there.)
It's been open about 8 months, but clearly getting a real sign is not high on the "to do" list. Judging from the picture it looks like there used to be a Mexican restaurant there before, but I'm not for sure. (I'm also not sure, but I think this might have been a Pizza Hut way back when I grew up in Fox Meadows.)
From what I can tell, there are one or two other Rancho Grandes in Mississippi--Southaven and Olive Branch.
Inside, the place is huge. There's an enormous dining room and bar when you first come in, and an open kitchen and game room to the right. The decor is awesome. There are all sorts of things adorning the walls from flamenco dancers to Frida Kahlo.
Despite it being a Friday night, and this place clearly having enough space for a crowd, we were among just a handful of diners. (They had beer on the menu, but not margaritas. I've found that when there are no margaritas on the menu, there aren't many gringos in the restaurant.) We grabbed a booth in the main dining area and perused the menu, which was in both English and Spanish.
Among the offerings, we saw Menudo, which we took as a sign of authenticity. Our waitress brought out homemade chips, which were nice and warm, as well as a selection of salsas--both very good signs. I went ahead and ordered cheese dip for the monkeys (Satchel, 8, and Jiro, 6) as well as our drinks.
There were all sorts of things on the menu that I had never heard of and trying to decide on just one was hard. I ultimately went for the Tamales Rancheros (rather than other option--Tamales Gringos) and a shrimp tostada. Warren knew right away that he wanted a whole fish. The kids have become pretty standard taco eaters, and when not eating tacos, Satchel is happy to just eat rice and beans.
There was a bit of a language barrier with the waitress, but we got our order in and patiently waited for the food to arrive. As I mentioned, there were plenty of things on the walls to look at, some people watching, and soccer on a big screen TV.
Satchel and Jiro occupied themselves thumb-wrestling once we grew tired of trying to find a funny Pizza Hut video on YouTube.
Once the food came out, we all dug right in. My tamale was fried, which made it nice and crisp--a totally new texture in terms of all of the other tamales I've eaten. It was burrito sized and buried under a nice heap of shredded lettuce, tomato, avocado, and crumbled cotija cheese. It was quite tasty.
I was also very happy with my shrimp ceviche tostada.
Warren was thrilled with his fish. Whole tilapia is a standard order for him at Mexican restaurants, but he thought this was above average. He liked that the fin was waving at him, and the fries on the side were a nice touch. "Fish and chips!" he exclaimed.
The monkeys' dinners didn't get photographed, so they must not have been too exciting. I know Jiro finished his whole taco and commented on the fact that it has two corn tortillas. "They gave me two taco buns," he said.
Once we were all done with dinner, we couldn't resist getting a dessert (although Warren said he could eat another fish). I described the Nieve frita--Corn Flake coated fried ice cream--and our choice was a no-brainer.
"It's gooder than cereal," declared Jiro. (Satchel still claimed his rice was the best dish of the evening. He doesn't have much of a sweet tooth.)
When we were all done, the monkeys went with me to pay at the counter, because they could see it was lined with candy for sale. Most of it was candy they weren't familiar with, so their interest eventually waned. They attempted to get me to buy them a Hot Wheel off of a wall dispenser, but we finished with Hot Wheels many years ago.
Our total bill was $31.40, which seemed incredibly reasonable. On our way out, I noticed a sign that said kids eat free on Saturdays (off of the kids' menu) and if you bring a church bulletin, you can get 10% off on Sunday.
We made a bathroom run on our way out. They are located in the back of the game room side. Nothing special, but clean--no changing table that I noticed. The location could be potentially dangerous if you have a 6-9 year old who will beg you for quarters.
We'll be back--maybe on a Saturday night. I'd like to try their burritos, which they advertise as the best, and the botanos. And I'm pretty sure the original La Michoacana isn't too far away.