El Ranchito Restaurant Harrisonburg, VA


The entrance is on the side of the building. This is the side of the building and it faces Elizabeth Street.

I was supposed to go to Artiles Restaurant, but after getting lost and then finding the building, to my surprise it was not there.   Instead, there was an Italian restaurant in its spot.  We drove to the back and didn’t see any other entrance, so we just left and I had a back up rest in mind.


We still wanted Mexican-style food, so I decided that we should try El Ranchito.  I have not heard anything about this restaurant.  I only know the name because I read something when I began this journey and it mentioned El Ranchito.


El Ranchito is somewhat hard to see, but it right before the Dairy Queen on your right if you're coming from route 33.

El Ranchito is located at 89 East Elizabeth Street across from the Food Lion and the Big Lots in the shopping center.   Also, it’s right next to Arby’s and close to Dairy Queen and Subway.  So, there are lots of options around the area.  There were only about four tables there while we were there, and it was during dinner time.  Here is a link to a map for further clarification!


The atmosphere was an authentic Mexican restaurant, very similar to El Charro both in atmosphere and menu.  There is the typical Spanish music playing in the background, but their décor was very authentic.  There were about four or five paintings that depicted very similar everyday activities in a Mexican pueblo.


The chips and salsa were very good. The salsa reminds me of the salsa at Dona Rose...excellent!

The service was very fast, attentive and grateful.  As soon as my friend or I ran out of our drink, our waitress was there to fill it up.  There is of course the standard chips and salsa dish as all Mexican restaurants offer at the beginning of your visit and as soon as we ate the first basket, she was there to offer another.  The food was made very quickly and it was delicious!


As for their menu, there were more options than most Mexican restaurants that I have been to, and some choices were very unique, like my entrée for example.  I ordered the Arroz con Pollo, which means rice with chicken, and it also included vegetables and a cheese sauce.  I thought that sounded different, and it was very good and I was very pleased with my choice.

My main dish, Arroz con Pollo. It was very good, especially the cheese sauce over the entire meal.


The rest of their menu is very typical of a Mexican restaurant.  There are salad choices, enchiladas, seafood, pork, chicken, among other options.  They have daily specials and during the week their lunch specials are only $4.95 during the weekday lunch period.  It sounds like a great deal to me.  El Charro has a somewhat similar menu.  There is no menu online for El Ranchito.

As for the prices, they are definitely very affordable for anyone.  My dinner meal was only $8.50 and it was almost too much for me to finish.  Nothing on their menu looked overpriced at all, even their seafood options.  I think it is about the same price as El Charro and less expensive than Dona Rosa.


My friend's main course, El Burrito Rancho. It also was covered in the cheese sauce and my friend said it was delicious!

Here is a picture of my friend’s main course.  He ordered the Burrito Rancho, which is basically a normal burrito with your choice of meat.  He chose steak and it also is served with their cheese sauce covering the entire burrito.  It is hard to see, but this burrito was the biggest one I have ever seen.


Overall, I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone who likes Mexican food.  Everything about my experience at El Ranchito was great.  The service was very prompt and nice and the food was fantastic.  I think I enjoyed El Ranchito as much as I like El Charro and El Charro has been one of my favorite restaurants since I have been down here at JMU.

If you enjoy El Ranchito, both El Charro and Dona Rosa have very similar menus and are both great choices if you are looking for great Mexican-style food!

The next restaurant that I am going to visit will be the Saigon Cafe, which is another Vietnamese restaurant, and I have heard some very good things about this establishment.  I will be visiting either Sunday or Monday night, so make sure to check out my blog this weekend!

If you have any comments, questions or concerns, just let me know and I will be glad to answer them!

Also, I am going to continue to post a poll question every couple of days, so make sure you vote for your favorite Harrisonburg restaurants!!


About Harrisonburg Restaurants Reviewed

I am 22 years old and I am a senior year at JMU. I interned with the sports department at WTTG Fox 5 over the summer. My favorite sport is baseball, but I like football and mostly any other sport as well. I like to hang out with my girlfriend, friends, family; I'm up for anything and I am a very chill person. My career aspirations are to become either a sports journalist or a sports producer, or a combination of both!
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6 Responses to El Ranchito Restaurant Harrisonburg, VA

  1. totomix says:

    I see you got talent in writing articles. Waiting for more informations

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  3. Krista says:

    Do they serve alcohol? I’ve tried calling them but their number is disconnected.

  4. sarkfollower says:

    Have you tried Jaliscos?? That is our favorite Mexican Rest. in town! It is going to be hard to beat their two dipping sauces, ambiance and extensive menu (as well as their bar and prices)! I think we will give El Ranchito a shot and try it tonight! Thanks for the info and pictures!!

  5. Jessica says:

    Okay… I wanted to report back because we just tried this restaurant…. Your description of the location (across from the Big Lots Shopping Center just after The Dairy Queen is right but the address is not 89 East Elisabeth- it’s 89 Carlton St. It is also called El Rancho (Like the picture you featured- not “El Ranchito” like your description reported. It’s obvious they rennovated recently as there were many tables and booths and you could see where they added on a front room. The art was nice and they had flat screens up. Maybe it was just four tables when you went and they added on since? Okay… so I ordered a Burrito Frito (which is normally a huge burrito in any other restaurant I’ve tried in town). It was tiny… when I say tiny… I mean I was literally hungry when I left there and that has never happened after eating Mexican! I even ordered a side of cheese sauce thinking I could fill up on some more chips but they never brought a second basket and the sauce was like cheese flavored water. It was so thin I could read a menu through it (it that were possible). The salsa was bland… sort of like salted pureed tomatoes- no onions or cilantro that I could tell. We were the only people in the restaurant and there was a waitress and two what looked to be male managers up front. I was a little skeptical when I put my order in as the waitress had never heard of a Burrito Frito and I had to point it out on the menu. I asked her if she was sure she put the right thing in and she said yes. I asked if that was the standard size for that item and she said she didn’t know. I think she was new or a fill in. I will say the flavor was okay (not great- a bit bland) and the chicken was cooked well and fresh. My husband ordered a shredded beef chimichanga… needless to say instead of beef, it came out with shrimp! He said it was good and didn’t bother returning it to the kitchen. My son had the kids quesidilla with rice and beans and that was actually quite good and the perfect size for a child. Overall, I could have excused some of the mistakes but being that we were the ONLY customers in the ENTIRE restaurant the ENTIRE time we were in there, I just don’t see how they could have brought the wrong thing out for my hubby! I showed her the cheese sauce and asked her if that looked like what they normally served and she said yes. I was really nice but told her I didn’t think we would be back. I thought maybe a manager would have come out to talk with us about our experience as they were standing about 20 feet from our table all night but they didn’t bother. (another thing that kind of boggled my mind). You would think that in a town with so many Mexican options for food, they would be really competitive and want to knock your socks off… just not the case here. They just didn’t seem to care… it was possible that maybe the waitress didn’t tell them we were not satisfied for fear she would be repremanded for not putting the order in correctly, so I don’t want to judge management too harshly since I don’t know for sure they were informed. If you are thinking about this restaurant… I’d think again… head up to Jaliscos on Neff!! It is so good and they have a history of success and several locations in the area due to their excellent food and service. I don’t predict El Rancho will be around much longer I hate to say… unless they really make some changes with the service, portion size and food quality. There are just too many better options! Thanks for your blogs- they are interesting to read (I’d love to know which restaurant you ordered the cheese ravioli from- the picture looked great but no restaurant is sited- maybe I missed it?).

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