El Rancho–Portales, NM

El Rancho Restaurant
101 S. Chicago Ave.
Portales, NM
(575) 359-0058

My review of El Rancho is from the early days of my web site when it was known as Steve’s Gastronomic Home Page. I do not have many details of my visit in 1999, but I do remember that it was real New Mexican food (something not always easy to find in eastern New Mexico). The flavor was there but it was lacking in the amount of heat normally found in New Mexican food. Still, it was a good place to get a last taste of New Mexican cuisine before heading into Tex-Mex country (or in my case it was the first taste of New Mexican food after coming in from the east).

The reason I am resurrecting this old review is that I found the restaurant’s salsa for sale in jars at the Eagle Ranch Gift Shop on the Plaza in Mesilla, New Mexico (just outside of Las Cruces). I am figuring it is available elsewhere in the state as well.

Salsa for Sale

The hot salsa from El Rancho Restaurant in Portales, NM

The hot salsa from El Rancho Restaurant in Portales, NM

Called El Rancho de Los Garcia’s Salsa, the Eagle Ranch Gift Shop in Mesilla had three versions for sale–mild, medium, and hot. I bought the hot one but it proved to be almost too hot for me to eat (although I have never found a salsa that was totally impossible). I was really surprised about this considering how mild the food was when I ate at the restaurant.

As far as the flavor is concerned, I think this is legit New Mexican salsa. Not all of the State’s salsa is the same, but as a whole I think it is better than even most of the “good” salsas found in other states (not to mention the ones that are purposely dumbed down).

My sampling of this salsa followed the one from El Bruno’s Restaurant in Cuba, New Mexico, so I can at least compare these two. I thought El Bruno’s had the better flavor, and not just because it was not quite as hot. El Bruno’s salsa was made with both New Mexico green chile and jalapeño, while El Rancho’s only has jalapeño. I am really surprised El Rancho’s is as good as it is considering it does not have the regular green chile, but I still would give the edge to El Bruno’s in terms of flavor. I do not think El Bruno’s is available in El Paso or Las Cruces, though, and the one from El Rancho is certainly one that I would like to buy again (although probably the medium version next time).

Additional Comments
On the jar of salsa it says that the Garcia family has been serving New Mexican cuisine since 1975. It now may be one of the State’s longest running New Mexican restaurants run by the same family, and for this it deserves recognition. I think the salsa it sells will be good advertisement for the restaurant because it is, in fact, a very good salsa.

El Rancho’s web site states that their chef has twenty years of experience cooking in the finest restaurants, and that “our chef is excited to present their vision to you and all our guests.” This makes me think that they may well have fixed what I consider to be their weak link at the time I visited–the heat element of the food. Even the best New Mexican restaurants I have visited in Southeastern New Mexico have not been as spicy as in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, but there is some kick to the chile they serve. I really do not know what El Rancho is doing now but I suspect the food is pretty good, and much of this speculation is based on the salsa that I tried.

Restaurant Web Site: El Rancho


Cuisine: New Mexican
Cost: N/A
Hours: Open Daily except Sun. Evening
Accessible: N/A
Smoking: N/A
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Jul. 24, 1999

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items: N/A

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 3


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