Mi Ranchito brings more atmosphere than flavor to Oakland

By Marc Schutzbank

Mi Ranchito

346 Atwood St.

11 a.m. — Midnight

Mexican Bar and Grill

Three Chili… Mi Ranchito

346 Atwood St.

11 a.m. — Midnight

Mexican Bar and Grill

Three Chili Peppers

Margaritas, enchiladas and — oh yeah, did I mention the margaritas?

The party that was La Fiesta on Atwood Street is reborn — dropped into water and baptized in a flurry of flavors called Mi Ranchito.

Located at 346 Atwood St., Mi Ranchito is not much different from La Fiesta. Bright colors and sombreros decorate the walls, while Mexican news and music blast from the speakers and the small TV set at the far end of the restaurant.

Yet, in it’s rebirth, Mi Ranchito can finally keep the tequila flowing with margaritas at the bar next door.

Tequila’s ability to destroy inhibition keeps things lively in the evening during half-price and even later. Pitt students too often miss out on the fun, as Oakland locals are often the ones meeting here for dancing and a general good time.

The food is not that fantastic, but it’s a chance to get away from traditional college bar food and student hangouts, making it a great alternative for half-price.

Mi Ranchito is exactly what you pay for.

Chips and salsa were served even before we ordered. But the chips weren’t that fresh and needed salt. The salsa was watery and lacked any flavor or texture, which can make or break salsa.

I ordered the cheese enchiladas with mole sauce ($7.95), which were rather bland.

A good mole should satisfy an endless desire for chocolate but surprise the eater with a Chuck Norris chili kick to the mouth. Mole should be thick and rich, not thin like Mi Ranchito’s.

The guacamole was pretty good, but there just wasn’t a lot of it. The Mexican rice was cooked well and was flavored with corn and chili powder. The beans, obviously cooked in lard, were scrumptious.

Mi Ranchito also serves these side dishes with lengua, or cow tongue, which is absolutely delicious if cooked well.

My friend across the table ordered three Mi Ranchito barbacoa tacos ($2.95 each).

The barbacoa, which is just barbequed beef, was done well with picante peppers, salt and black pepper. But there just wasn’t a lot of flavor with the tacos.

On the side was a spicier salsa, made thick with chili powder. The salsa really gave the meal its flavor. The tacos were alright, but nothing special.

As it’s almost impossible to get Mexican food without imbibing some sort of tequila, I settled on a strawberry margarita, ($5.00) hoping for a tropical drink with a little umbrella served to me by beautiful girls in grass skirts.

The drink looked good. It was served in an actual margarita glass, unlike some other places. But it had a weak flavor.

Too much tequila can make a margarity unenjoyable, but this one was underwhelming. A good margarita should have the flavor, but not the harshness, of tequila. This one could have been virgin, for all I know.

Mi Ranchito serves half-price food starting at 10 p.m. until its kitchen closes at midnight.

Overall, this place is perfect for the half-price munchies or a sit-down burrito after a long day in class or at work.

But when you’re there, don’t expect amazing Mexican food. Keep it simple with burritos or easy chicken dishes. We’re just too far north for mole.