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It’s been said there’s no good Mexican food in Vancouver. By who? Oh, me, everyone from the U.S. I’ve talked to here, etc.

Some folks, grouped under the label “Optimists” say that they’ve tried food in one dining establishment or another, and have found decent Mexican food.  I’ve taken those recommendations and have tried to find something I truly liked, but so far, nothing has truly impressed, and I’ve honestly gone so infrequently that true comparisons are difficult.

So this week, I’m trying something different.  I’m going to go have a wet Mexican burrito every day until I find one that’s truly good, or I give up.

* * *

Tonight, I started cheap, heading to El Rancho restaurant, a walk-up at Kingsway and Broadway.  To be quite honest, though my initial expectations were low, the menu itself, simple and direct, raised my hopes.

I was going to start with pupusas, and have an Inca Kola (both on the menu) but was informed that both were unavailable—well, it was Thanksgiving, and we were the only folks in the restaurant at 8 p.m. Not that there’s anything wrong with an empty restaurant on Monday in the rain—Susie and I read our books and enjoyed ourselves just fine.

What they did have was a burrito special, that looked like this:

The refried beans were not too thick and had a smokey quality.  The rice was firm, though a little too plump.  The tortilla was fresh, and the cheese was white, not yellow, though kind of skimpy.  The salad—who eats that at a Mexican restaurant.  Beh.  They would have put quac on top if I hadn’t asked for none.

So, how was the burrito itself? Not bad, not bad except for one thing.  The spice was OK, but what ruined it for me, though, was the meat.  The pork was cut up roast pork, not stewed pork, and it was really, really fatty, bordering on gristle. Thankfully, there was also too little of it.

The restaurant itself was functional but completely unimpressive.  It reminded me very much of the places I ate at in L.A. that were so delicious.  The giant TV behind me, blaring Spanish pop rock videos, added to the ambience, but not to the conversation.  The food was cheap—the burrito special was $10 and included a drink, which in my case was fresh squeezed pineapple juice.

They took only cash and debit, no credit cards, which you should note.

Overall, I give El Rancho a 5 out of 10, with credit to their simple atmosphere and good price—but it could have been much, much higher, if only they had decent meat.

El Rancho, 112 Kingsway and Broadway, (604) 874-1363

* * *

Tomorrow, I may try La Casita.  If you have suggestions for me to try, let me know.


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“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

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