Have you been to Mexico? One of the tastes I fell in love with was genuine Agua Fresca, a fruity refreshment served throughout the country, often ladled out of a large plastic barrel. When fresh fruit is out of season, there is Agua Fresca de Jamaica, iced hibiscus flower tea in all its magenta-stained glory. Taqueria La Racherita makes their own, and for only $2. Ay de mi!
If you want mariachi's serenading you in sombreros, go to Burien. If you want day-glo green Margaritas with your dinner, there's plenty of other choices within a piedra's throw. But genuine hospitality, and I mean genuine heart and soul sets this place apart. Plus without the booze, our tab was a downright pittance. Mexico's Got Talent on Univision is free entertainment while you munch on chips and salsa.
Fade to a vacant restaurant space (formerly Habanero's Taqueria & Grill, then Taqueria Guaymas) which has been turned over to the experienced hands of neighboring Mexican grocery store, La Rancherita. Expect good food, and even greater things to come according to their staff.
Since I was feeling under the weather, I wanted sopa, Tortilla Soup ($6.99) to be exact. La Rancherita adds a hearty portion of chicken to their bowl, plus avocado slices, fried tortilla pieces, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and non-traditional Monterey Jack cheese. And like a good grandmotherly chicken soup, the flavors were even better the next day when I heated up my leftovers. Saturday and Sunday only they offer Menudo which I saw a few tables enjoying.
My husband chose a three Item Combination ($12.99) with a chalupa, tamale, and enchilada, your choice of meat. Rancherita's chalupa, or "little canoe", is a puffy fried flour tortilla filled with lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, and chicken in this case. The tamale and enchilada were solid, but what surprisingly stood out on this plate was some of the best Mexican rice I've had at a restaurant. Light and fluffy, putting others to shame. "We make our own rice and beans from scratch, not like most places," our server agreed when I complimented the arroz. My husband was mad when I ate his leftovers which he usually doesn't even want packed up.
I wanted a chance to sample some of their other meats having plenty of opportunity to try their chicken, so I ordered one Taco Al Pastor ($2.50). "Shepherd's Style" tacos were the result of Lebanese immigrants who taught Mexicans how to roast meat on a vertical spit. If you go to an outdoor market in Mexico, you can see rows of these rotating spits of spicy marinated pork. La Rancherita's Al Pastor is slightly crispy and bacon-like in flavor, almost like it was cooked in a charola. Homemade red or green salsa is provided.
My second dish was a Sope ($2.50), a thick fried masa cake topped with Carne Asada, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and a dollop of crema. A bargain, but the steak was a little gristly for my taste. The more adventurous can order Buche, Tripa, and Cabeza as fillings for sopes or tacos.
Soon La Rancherita will have their liquor license, but the food alone should be packing this place. I just hope the staff keeps their sweet disposition, and genuine hospitality. I grimace at the thought of someone greeting us with a phony, "Hola Amigos!" at the door.
Taqueria La Rancherita
530 Rainier Ave S
Renton, WA 98057
Phone: (425) 988-3120
Sunday - Thursday: 9:30 AM - 10:00 PM
Friday - Saturday: 9:30 AM - 10:30 PM