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Simple pleasures at El Ranchito 2

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Codornices at El Ranchito 2. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Codornices at El Ranchito 2.
We roam past imported goods, dried chilies, piñatas, cheap sodas and more to the rear of this taqueria and carniceria, where one orders at the counter, then returns post-meal to take a stub to the front register to pay. On the familiar front, we order a chicken torta ($5.99), perfectly plain until we sample multiple mixes from a salsa bar — the tomatillo and pico play mild while a dark red sauce quickly destroys us. We get more.

Seeking something unusual, I order codornices ($9.99) before bothering to translate on my phone. Turns out it’s quail, fried to an oily, tough leather on the outside. Not unlike eating Chinese duck, bits of dark meat must be worked off small bones, laboriously, but patience pays off with a salty punch of protein, to be blended with basic rice and beans or folded between aromatic corn tortillas with avocado and queso garnishes. House horchata ($2.99) excels, non-synthetic-tasting or overly sweet, huge with cinnamon.

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