I love Mexican food and am always looking for food that comes from different regions.
I was beyond thrilled when I stumbled upon Rancho Grande Taqueria in an unassuming strip mall in Pleasanton while looking for vegan and vegetarian options for some friends of mine.
When my mom and I met some longtime friends there for lunch recently, we drove right by the restaurant twice because it is tucked away. Look for — it's near there, at 2707 Hopyard Road.
Once we found it, we saw a lot of people gathered around outdoor tables eating some of the most yummy-looking tortas, burritos, and tacos we'd ever seen. We knew we were in the right place and the amazing smells drew us in.
We found a table nestled in the corner of the busy restaurant and glanced at the huge menu posted on the wall.
I was very impressed with the menu because it seemed to have something for everyone.
For our vegan friends, there were a few options like chile relleno, salads and veggie enchiladas. I also liked that they had a nice mix of street food and classic dishes, and then some food from the region of Los Altos de Jalisco, which the restaurant is known for. These include Fajitas de Camaron ($18.60) made with shrimp and mojarra, which is a small silvery fish.
It was time to order and I knew I wanted a crispy taco with carne asada ($9.05) because in my opinion, how you define a good Mexican restaurant is by the tenderness of the meat and the freshness of the tortillas.
My tacos came with rice, beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese and lettuce.
I am a taco minimalist and just get cheese and meat and then will top with guacamole and sour cream as I eat. The meat was so flavorful, the cheese was fresh and the taco shell was super crispy.
I loved every bit of it. My only complaint was that compared to everything else, the beans were a bit flavorless.
The other people in our party ordered the following: a taco salad ($8.05) filled with fried pork and fixings, plus huge globs of sour cream and guacamole — all encased in a crispy fried tortilla bowl. We then had three chicken enchiladas ($9.75), which were not as full of meat as we would of liked, but were full of cheese and yummy sauce.
Now for the vegetarian options: we had the chile relleno ($9.50), which was extremely fresh and flavorful and full of cheese that was creamy and fresh.
There was one entrée we were disappointed with — the cheese enchiladas ($8.05). We were given chicken enchiladas at first, but when we told the cooks, they were quick to remedy the situation. Then when we got the correct food, we cut open the enchilada to discover the cheese was not melted; it was just lukewarm.
Yet we loved everything else. My favorite part of meal was the chips and fresh salsa. The salsa bar is amazing — my favorites were the green salsa and the red sauce.
The atmosphere was warm and inviting, but the décor is not super-fancy. In my opinion, though, that adds to the charm of the place and makes you feel like you are at a food stand.
This is a great local hangout where you can eat some awesome Mexican food while watching some Spanish TV on the giant flat screen.
I would definitely recommend it.