Mi Rancho Restaurant in Silver Spring, Maryland is a family favorite for children’s birthday dinners. The kids like it for two reasons. Mi Rancho has a tortilla maker located by the front door of the restaurant. It’s so much more fun to watch fresh tortillas being made than to sit at the table waiting for food to arrive. Sometimes, friendly staff even offer a freshly made tortilla hot off the tortilla assembly line to the little ones clustered around the machine.
Mi Rancho has another feature that makes kids enjoy having birthday dinners there. When it’s time to sing “Happy Birthday,” the staff arrives with a very large Mexican sombrero and places it on the head of the birthday child. Up until this year, my kids considered the sombrero a special treat. Upon turning 8, my youngest begged not to be embarrassed by such goings-ons. Sigh. They grow up so fast.
Every meal at Mi Rancho starts with baskets of fresh, hot corn chips and salsa. Unlimited fresh, hot corn chips and salsa. The handmade chips are thin and crisp, slightly salty, and vastly superior to their cousins from the grocery. These arrive when the drink order is taken. Mi Rancho has all the frozen and fruity alcoholic drinks Mexican restaurant patrons crave from margaritas to pina coladas. They stock several beers, including some traditional Mexican beers. And their juice menu is extensive, including pineapple juice and the juice of other tropical fruits.
Servings at Mi Rancho are muy grande. Meals come on a platter, and there are often small side bowls for the beans and rice. The birthday girl dined on a vegetable quesadilla, a folded over tortilla filled with cheese, broccoli, carrots, and zucchini. This meal was accompanied by guacamole, sour cream, pica de gallo, refried beans and rice. Lucky for the birthday girl’s mom, the birthday girl is not fond of guacamole, so I was able to gobble up this delightful, chunky dish with prominent and oh-so-tasty chopped onions slathered in mashed avocado with only a hint of lemon and tomato.
The Enchiladas Monterrey dish comes in two sizes- two enchiladas or three. The enchiladas are stuffed with cheese and only lightly sauced. This dish was served with refried beans, rice, sour cream, and chopped lettuce and tomatoes. It was prepared to perfection. The two enchilada size was more than I could finish, even after sharing.
My husband ordered a surf and turf style dish with large shrimp and beef. This requires mention of that fresh grilled smell that permeates the restaurant and is oh, so tantalizing. His dish was accompanied by the usual beans, rice and salad. He also ordered one of the best offerings Mi Rancho has- fresh tortillas. These are soft, hot and flaky, served in a stack in a protective covered plastic tortilla plate. They are wonderful for pulling apart and eating plain and for wrapping other food.
Our family has had many a family meal at Mi Rancho and another favorite is the fajitas. The smell alone is reason to order them- that heavenly open grilled smell, with no hint of grease. They can be ordered in chicken, beef or vegetable varieties, and although shrimp fajitas is not on the menu, Mi Rancho has prepared it for us on request. All fajitas come with a variety of grilled vegetables, sour cream, guacamole, and those superlative freshly made tortillas.
We sat on the outdoor patio at Mi Rancho, a pleasant enclosed space with high enough walls that the street traffic remains “out there” but the fresh night air circulates among the diners. When the summer season is in full swing, Mi Rancho diners can sit inside an enclosed patio area with windows open to the street to get the feeling of the outdoors without the Washington mugginess and mosquitoes.
Mi Rancho is located at 8701 Ramsey Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910, Tel. 301-588-4872.