By A. Paul Mitchell, London Dining Review
The Central American flavours of Peru and Columbia are celebrated at El Ranchito. Their focus on serving good authentic food in a low-key setting creates a comfortable, festive experience.
Although I have eaten in the small, brightly-coloured and eclectically furnished eatery for dinner, I stop in for a quick lunch. Portions are generous and my usual order, the Combo Uno of pupusa, empanada, chimichanga and rice and beans ($12.25), contains everything you would want. Although it covers a range of deep-fried traditional dishes familiar enough for those who have not explored the cuisine before, it is much heartier than I am looking for at the moment. I decide this time on a small plate of flautas ($7.50).
The courteous waiter brings out scrumptious, hand-crafted nacho chips – fried to a crunchy perfection – and a thin but delicious and delicately balanced salsa, heavy on onion and tomato. I add habanero hot sauce for kick. A Postobon apple pop (yes, I am surprised too) tastily cleanses my palate. In no time, my meal arrives.
Three crunchy fried tortilla rolls are filled with a mild ground chicken and potato mixture generously topped with fresh lettuce, spicy pico de gallo sauce and sour cream. Garlic and cilantro keeps it fresh tasting. My flautas are quite substantial for an appetizer-sized portion.
My lunch visit to El Ranchito is quick and happily memorable. With an agreeable assortment of traditional Latin dishes, this enjoyable and festive location is ideally suited for future and lengthier evenings of casual dining.
El Ranchito Authentic Latin Cuisine
111 Wellington Street (between Grey and South)
Hours: Monday to Wednesday, 10:00 am – 9:00 pm; Thursday to Saturday, 10:00 am – 10:00 pm; closed Sunday
Rating: **** (4)