The experience

El RanchitoToday Team Phipps went on another adventure as the weather in Dallas was particularly AWESOME and I had the day off.  Unfortunately, I do not have the night off.  So, we decided we would hit the zoo and eat dinner near the zoo with enough time for me to go back home, change and drive over to the hospital.  I know, I live a crazy life between home and work, but it’s worth it for my kiddos.  Anyway, there’s is a TOTALLY FUN Mexican Restaurant near the zoo called El Ranchito, that’s where we’d go this afternoon.

El Ranchito


Yup, this afternoon, we arrived at the restaurant at 4:30 for dinner.  We were, of course, seated right away, but you might be surprised at how many people were already eating dinner.  The Mariachis were also in full effect.  I think it’s a 7 piece Mariachi band and they are VERY good.  Benji was initially sort of mesmerized, just staring with his mouth open, but we got a few dance moves out of he and Mina.

Benji staring at the mariachi band

Mina dancing to the mariachi band


We ordered our drinks, queso over about a 10 minute time period.  Meanwhile, Mina is working very hard on her paper placemat having already completed the connect dots and moving on to the maze. Our queso arrives shortly thereafter.  I give Benji is own portion in a separate bowl and he promptly dumps it onto Mina’s picture.  I quickly circumvent any potential tears by handing her Benji’s unused placemat.  She was happy with that.  Mina and I headed to the restroom before dinner would come out.  There is no changing station, but bring your changing pad because there is a padded bench that could be used in a pinch. 

When we return, Mina’s picture is wet and set aside. Mina said, “Hey, that’s the messed up one!”  Ogre explained to her that while we were gone, Benji flung his water and got it wet.  She was okay with that and busied herself once again.  Then Benji promptly tears off the corner of her paper. “Hey!  BENJI!”  she yelled.  I offered to switch seats with her so he couldn’t mess up her pictures anymore and she said, “Oh, yes, thank you!”  So we switched.  Ogre and I helped her unscramble the letters on the next activity on her paper while Benji continued to act up beside me.Artwork by Mina


Benji would cry for no reason, bounce hard in his seat so he would shake the table, throw his water across the table.  Ogre said, “I guess the terrible twos are starting early.”  Oh goodness, I hope that’s not the case!  It has been a very tiring day for a little boy who hasn’t taken a nap.  I was still pretty strict with him and told him no when he bounced hard and we took away his drink.  Thankfully, the food arrived and he was initially happy to eat up rice and beans, but once he was not hungry anymore, he was back to being fuss buckets.  I got him to laugh by telling him to “tiko mommy” (tickle mommy).  He would just lightly put his hand on my back and I would squirm and laugh and he would CRACK UP!! It was so funny!  Of course, that can only last so long. 

Benji tickles mommy


By this time, it was time to wrap things up so we requested the check and Ogre told me to take him out front while he waited for Mina to finish.  We headed home at about 5:30, which was perfect timing for me.

As we were walking to the car, Mina paused for more dancing next to the clothing store next door.

Mina dancing to the street music

Ogre was particulaly impressed with the clothes they were selling…

Shopping next door


The food

Above average to excellent.  This place has both traditional, and I mean traditional, Mexican dishes and Tex-Mex dishes.  Sweetbreads, anyway (sound good? That’s thymus for the naive).

Chile Con QuesoQueso was okay.  It had a strong red bell pepper flavor to it. 



Enchiladas SuizasI ordered the Enchiladas Suisas, one of my favorite Mexican dishes.  It’s basically chicken enchiladas with green tomatillo sauce with a sour cream or Crema Mexicana atop that.  They even do something a little different than most places I’ve had this dish -they top it with lettuce, tomatoes, and Crema Mexicana.  It actually tasted GREAT like this, I loved the tomatoes with it!  Rice and beans were also very tasty!


Guisado NortenoOgre ordered the Guiso Norteno, which is a stewed beef tenderloin in a roasted tomato salsa.  He thought it was excellent.  I had a bite, it was definitely tender and had great flavor, but had a little too much heat for me.  I wouldn’t be able to eat a whole dish of this.  Ogre ate it all up though, didn’t leave anything behind!

Mina ordered the Chicken Tenders; we replaced her fries with rice and beans.  Her rice had a lot of peas and carrots in it and she ate it because she was able to mix it with her beans and also poured the cheese that came with her plate on the rice.  Benjamin ate the rice and beans from my plate and he must’ve eaten half of my beans. 

Their kids menu has a choice of a chalupa, taco or enchilada with rice and beans for 4.95 or chicken tenders and fries for 5.95.


The service

Average.  We had our drink order taken pretty quickly, but after that the service was a little slow.  Somewhat surprising for eating at 4:30 in the afternoon, but a quick glance at the restaurant showed that it was already getting full!  Our food came out at a pretty slow tempo as well.  Or maybe I was just in a hurry.  We spent about 45 minutes at the restaurant.  The waitstaff seemed to be doing the “team” concept as we had more than one person checking on us and refilling drinks, they did do a good job of making sure everything came out okay and drinks stayed filled.


The kids

Definitely kid friendly!!  I think they get 5 stars for kid friendliness.  The restaurant is bright and fun with a lot of decorations that are interesting and eye-catching.  The restaurant is loud and even louder when the Mariachis are playing.  And when the Mariachis play, your kids will be enthralled -either they’ll be staring or they’ll be dancing, maybe both!  They have a good kids menu with smaller portions of traditional Tex-Mex dishes as well as chicken tenders for those kids who aren’t yet into Tex-Mex.  They give out crayons and a paper  placemat with coloring, games, and connect-the dots.  Kept Mina entertained the whole time!

The decor

This place is a great place for a celebration or a fun night out eating Mexican food!!  Bring your cash if you want the Mariachis to play for you…requesting a song is going to cost you 15 bucks a song!!

$15 a song!

The total: 41.95


Rants, Raves, and Ramblings

We celebrated both Mina’s first and second birthdays here, so we have a lot of good memories.  When we came those times, we did pony up the 15 bucks it costs to have the Mariachis play and, when you’re celebrating, it’s well worth it.  My favorite “Mariachi song” is La Pollera Colora. 

Our favorite little Mexican Restaurant in Nashville (La Terraza) and Mariachis until Mina was 9 months old and she loved them!  Alvin, the fiddle player, was her favorite; I think it was her first crush!!

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