Local restaurant brings Tex-Mex flavor to Waco

Ranchito is an authentic Mexican restaurant located at 2310 W. Waco Drive. It is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information regarding the restaurant, visit https://www.facebook.com/theranchitobarandgrill/ Photo credit: Penelope Shirey

Texas is known for its incredible Mexican food, and Waco is notorious for having some of the best finds in regard to food trucks and restaurants.

A friend and I found Ranchito through Googling, “Top restaraunts in Waco.” The result of this random search is by far my new favorite Mexican restaurant in Waco and a top choice for the central Texas area.

Located about 15 minutes from campus, Ranchito gives Baylor students a chance to step outside the Baylor bubble and experience Tex-Mex. The outside may be deceiving, but once you walk in you know it’s going to be delicious.

The menu includes over 70 items, many of them the classic entrees you would find at any Tex-Mex restaurant. Something different, though, is that it actually tastes like food you find across the border, none of that fake cheese or pre-made tortilla nonsense you see in some restaurants.

On Friday afternoon, there was no wait. We sat in the back and were able to people watch — which was so fun because it felt like a whole new Waco. I chose their fajitas because fajitas are filled to the brim with meats, veggies and Mexican flavor. Chicken and steak are relatively easy to cook, but this restaurant really knows how to season their meat to absolute perfection. My friend ordered their pulled chicken enchiladas with verde sauce, and both my and her entrees were so good I wanted to order more.

The seasonings and flavor were incredible, something not found at most “Tex-Mex” restaurants. They weren’t too spicy but were definitely spicier than the average Wacoan’s grilled chicken dinner. The peppers and onions in my fajitas were sweet and perfectly cooked, not raw, and they didn’t taste like they were just slapped on the grill. The verde sauce on the enchiladas was the closest thing to perfect I’ve had — it was a good mix of savory, yet sweet and not too chunky or soupy.

The entrees were definitely enough for two people to share, but they were also a great size for someone who likes leftovers for lunch the next day.

We had stuffed ourselves with chips and salsa before we even ordered, so dessert was not on the menu by any means. While their salsa and queso were stellar, I think next time I will save some room for a few sopapillas or even some tres leches cake.

My frustrations of not having a bigger stomach hit when I saw the people next to us get their food. The quesadillas and stuffed avocado looked to die for; I definitely saw different things on the menu that I want to try the next time I go.

All in all, Ranchito was one of those finds in Waco that I probably would have never tried on my own. It was a step outside my normal “go-to” places and area, but the food was better than any other Mexican place I’ve yet to find in Waco. Their weekly specials are also a steal; they cater to college student budgets 100 percent, and that was one of the things I appreciated the most.