The Latin Tongue: Taqueria El Ranchito

It was the middle of January and for the first time since we started the Latin Tongue restaurant reviews, we couldn't make a date for lunch. So, we found ourselves driving down to Richfield on a frigid night to sup at Taqueria El Ranchito. It figures that we would choose a modest little spot that in all ways seemed like a lunch spot, but it was warm and owner Juan was gracious and kind and very willing to fill our bellies.

Read more about our Latin eating adventures here.

Much like El Taco Riendo, El Ranchito is a more of a deli style restaurant, where you order at the counter off of a menu board. Juan was all business as we ordered and it turns out that this restauranteur is serious about his food. He may not have the resources to invest in an amazing atmosphere, but he definitely makes up for it with his commitment to taste. He recommended the enchiladas with his homemade red sauce as a favorite must have. It was much later in the evening when we found out that there are many things here that we would have to try in the future. Once you get him talking, his pride for excellent food makes you want to try everything on the menu. More about that later.


We ordered a couple of tacos as per the ground rules laid out for our Mexican restaurant reviews. Upon seeing cabeza (head) on the menu, Charles had to try it and I ordered an al pastor taco. We also ordered a tamale and for the first time, we had options. Juan makes pork or chicken tamales, but also a jalapeno tamale, called a raja. We ordered a pork tamale and a raja. Because we are gluttons when it comes to delicious home made food, we took his suggestion for enchiladas and also wanted to try a torta.


Juan went back to the kitchen and bustled about and the food was served quick and hot. The tacos were just about perfect. Two hot and fresh tasting tortillas were topped with perfectly cooked and seasoned meats accompanied with the typical cilantro, onion and radish as well as a couple selections of homemade salsas. The cabeza was rich, mild and tasty, but I prefer seasoned, grilled pork and chicken in my tacos. 


The tamales were by far my favorite so far in this journey into the Latin world. They were served wrapped in layers of corn husk and as we peeled these away, we were greeted with fresh, moist and tasty masa corn and well spiced fillings. The pork was great, but it was the rajas that really melted me. They were tasty, spicy and delicious. I have officially been introduced to a new favorite food.


Juan was right about the enchiladas. The sauce was explosive and flavorful. Every bite had me wanting another...and a sip of a cool refreshing beverage. There is no doubt in my mind that the next time I visit El Ranchito I will be ordering enchiladas, as long as Juan doesn't change his recipe. 

Enchiladas Enchiladas  

The more we talked to Juan, the more interested we became in his story. It turns out that food has been his life for quite a while. He used to sell tacos in Mexico, tried his hand at the food scene in Los Angeles and has since settled in Richfield, where he has been working without a break for two years. (Really, he said he hasn't had a day off for two years.) In the process of selling just tacos to selling a whole menu of Mexican food, he admits that he has had to learn a lot, but that it hasn't kept him from making everything from scratch. He could take shortcuts and buy salsa and sauces, but Juan takes great pride in having his own, unique recipes. He also works with customers to give them what they want. He told us that a lot of Americans don't like beans with lard, so he started making them without and you sure can't taste the difference. I found his drive to produce amazing food on a tight budget inspiring. Juan is just another example of a hard working food lover here in Minnesota. For my part, I hope to go back this coming summer and introduce Juan to the local farmers markets. It seems like a perfect match.


Here are the details:

Taqueria El RanchitoTortaTorta

6451 Lyndale Ave S

Richfield, Mn




Average from $5-8

Tacos, $2

Tamales, $2

Burritos, $7

Tortas, $7-10

Enchiladas, $8

Menudo or Pozole, $8

Chilaquiles, $8

Kids stuff, $5



Huge selection of meat, all very well done. Open until 3 am on Friday and!



Mon-Thurs and Sun, 10am-10pm

Fri and Sat, 10am-3am



Cash or credit



We only spoke with Juan, but communication was obviously not a problem. Menus were ok...I recommend ordering off of the to-go menu instead of the menu boards.


Lawrence Black is a writer and editor at Simple, Good and Tasty.  He can be reached at He is often very full of beans and rice.