Review: Rancho La Sandia – Garland, Texas

Rancho La Sandia, the place to go for an authentic taste that’s beyond Tex-Mex!

Moving is never easy for many different reasons but I want to focus on only one of those reasons right now: there are so many new restaurants to try and so little time to try them all! – I say that as if they all have to be tried within the first few months. Ha!

It’s just nice to know where to take your family when they visit or that hole-in-the-wall place that no one seems to notice but managed to catch your eye. It’s places like that I’m proud to be giving my wife’s hard-earned cash.

Lately I’ve had a crazy craving for Tex-Mex. I like mine to be more Mex than Tex, as authentic as I can get, but a good flavor combination definitely scores points in my book!

… And I have found just the place in Rancho La Sandia!
(Cue matador fanfare)

Sure there are other Mexican, Tex-Mex or similar ethnic restaurants around but they pale in comparison. If you keep on reading you’ll see why.

It’s really easy to miss this little gem unless you’re a local and/or just have a super-keen sense of direction to traverse a couple of the many confusing streets Garland has to offer. I’m not a native of this city so over the years I have had the wonderful experience of getting lost more times than I can imagine. The roads were obviously designed by a civil engineer that practiced Timothy Leary’s philosophy on life or thought that Batman was real and, being a super-villain that designed random streets, would have the upper hand on evading his chase. Who knows?
It’s located on Marketplace just off of and facing Centerville. There are never too many cars parked outside and that’s too bad because people are missing out.

I didn’t know what to expect when I first visited Rancho La Sandia. After driving by several times, trying to familiarize myself with the best way to navigate the area I decided to take a chance.
Sometimes this type of food is just too bland or too salty to even give a second chance but it’s always that first try you need, a push for that little taste of adventure that lets you know you’ve accomplished something however minute it might be.

So I went in and grabbed a seat and there was Juan(ito) – by his own naming – to greet me. Handing me a menu he took my drink order and as usual I go for the Dr. Pepper.
According to their website Rancho La Sandia has been here since 1990 and “has been responsible for providing outstanding handmade Mexican Food ever since“. Obviously that’s given them enough time to fill out a menu and give it a proper layout. I was definitely impressed. They also have weekend brunch!

Salsa en Salsa Verde
To those of you that are afraid to eat "green things"... more for me!

Juan came back and brought my drink with not one but two salsas, one typical and the other verde (green). When I say typical I’m not saying it’s anything less, just red and “basic”, but their Salsa Verde is the creamiest green tomato salsa I’ve ever had. Sometimes I like to try and gauge the rest of the food by the salsa that’s brought to me and if there are two that are awesome yet completely different then that’s a good sign.

After thumbing through the menu and snacking on the chips and salsa I came across two menu items that sounded interesting: Enchiladas de Pollo and Pollo Rostizado. Obviously I was in the mood for chicken. As an experienced waiter myself I found it only natural to ask Juan when he came back which of those two choices he thought would be best and he recommended the latter of the two. The former I tried at a later time; it was good but he was correct. I like a waiter that knows his menu!

Rostizado!
If you don't like chicken on the bone, don't try this. You might actually like it!

When the food arrived in just a few minutes I was surprised! Chicken on the bone was never really a favorite of mine but it came with the choice of corn or flour tortillas and since I always go for corn and Juan recommended the dish I might as well try to pick at the bones and get some minor enjoyment out of it at least. The surprise is here: at my first attempt I used a knife and fork on the meat and it pulled right off the bone. That’s a wonderful experience, honestly. When the meat effortlessly comes right off the bone without you having to use your fingers, I know there’s definitely something right about this chicken. When I popped a piece in my mouth an explosion of flavor transported me to another place and time. It was amazing!

Needless to say after that initial experience I’ve revisited Rancho La Sandia several times. I was disappointed only once and that was when I had ordered their taco salad and Juan seemed to be the only server on duty during a busy time. The salad was a bit soggier than I prefer and didn’t have too much flavor at all, but what do you expect? They’re not Taco Delite or Pancho’s!

Enchiladas en Mole
Holy Mole! - Yeah, I know.

After the Salad failure I decided to try something that seemed more… signature and tried their Enchiladas en Mole. That was another glorious experience. When it came out it didn’t look like much and I had never really been a fan of Mole before but there’s that “adventure” thing again. It rocked my face off! It was sweet and savory and both flavors managed to compliment the other in a slow, smooth and delicious ballet in my mouth. It’s definitely a must try!

Rancho La Sandia seems to always have a happy hour or their Margaritas are just always well priced. And if you want to catch a game they will more than likely have it on. So if you guys want a great meal and want to get your significant other all nice and saucy then this is the place to go. It’s quaint and the atmosphere is very welcoming. Just chew and swallow before you cheer.

-VR

If you’re interested in reading other reviews for Rancho La Sandia they can be found at the links below. Thanks!

Active Diner, Urbanspoon, Yelp

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