For some unknown reason, locals tend to hate on this restaurant. I have a hunch it has to do with proximity to amazing local Mexican food...which lives in abundances in Southern California. But for us east coasters, this sloppy Mexican can really hit the spot. Lets take a look at one of my favorite counter service restaurants in any Disney park.
It should come as no surprise that Rancho was one of the first things on our itineraries upon arrival in California a couple of weeks ago. For those following along on Twitter you probably realize that we dined here a whopping three times in a week. Obviously we love this Frontierland staple, but why?
Rancho Del Zocalo is a large counter service restaurant that has been serving guests in one form or another since the first year of Disneyland. Though many people long for the campy awesomeness of Casa De Fritos, I think Rancho fits right in with the more rustic Frontierland of today. The landscaping and architecture reflect this, and is ridiculously lovely.
Butting up directly to Big Thunder Mountain, this restaurant reflects its neighbor, and blends seamlessly with it. In fact, one of the best seats at Rancho is next to the loading/unloading platform of the attraction. What a fun way to spend your lunch!
There is only outdoor seating here, although quite a bit of it is covered. This shouldn't be a problem since you're in the gorgeous southern California weather. Why would you ever eat inside?!
Rancho is cafeteria style, with food sitting under heat lamps and ready to scoop. Also of note, the food is split into different ordering "bays" ala Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe. This shouldn't spook you though, the ordering process is ridiculously fast.
The menu here is actually pretty extensive. In addition to tacos and burritos, there is also a few salads, chicken dishes and an enchilada platter. The best part of Rancho is that almost everything comes in a veggie option, and the refried beans are also vegetarian, which is NOT usually the case at Mexican restaurants, so that makes me a happy boy obviously.
The enchilada platter is ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS IN THE WORLD. It comes with three cheese filled enchiladas in a mild red sauce covered in yummy salty Mexican cheese. The spanish rice is overcooked in a way that only a cafeteria can get away with, but that doesn't stop it from being awesome. In fact, I could easily make a meal of just beans and rice here. The platter also comes with a small side of lettuce and pico de gallo, which adds some nice freshness to the dish. It really is a step up from most counter service meals. It pisses me off that Disney World doesn't have anything like this.
The salad was super yummy with more toppings than I knew what to do with. Cheese, black bean salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream and refried beans sit atop a very small amount of shredded lettuce. Now, some people might be all aboard with this layout, but I LOVE LETTUCE. Its my favorite food of all time, and I'd rather have a lot more lettuce than toppings. Also, this salad didn't come with dressing. I'm sure they would have found a way to accommodate, but the young lady who made my food made no mention of it...so who knows. Over all, a good veggie option if your tummy can deal with all the dairy.
Adam enjoyed the veggie burrito quite a bit, but it is honestly pretty much the exact same as the enchilada platter, except with the addition of grilled veggies inside of the burrito. But seriously, rice and beans for days.
Don't get me wrong, this is SLOPPY Mexican food, but sometimes that really hits the spot. Especially when dosed with ample amounts of La Victoria brand taco sauce, which is available in ample supply here. Trust me, use half of the bottle on each plate of food. Drown your dish in La Victoria. Even if it weren't for the yummy food, Rancho would still be a favorite place to sit and overlook Frontierland as the world passes by. One of the most classic lovely spots in Disneyland.