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I love the name Rancho Relaxo. When I first heard about it, the name just made it sound like some cool, zen place that I wanted to be at.
Then I found out they served Mexican food. Sign. Me. Up.
Rancho Relaxo Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar has a chill vibe that you pick up on as soon as you walk through the door. It is dim and traditional and could definitely be mistaken as a dive at first sight. It certainly has a simple aesthetic that reminds me of a saloon style bar in the Wild West.
You know, because I’ve been to so many bars in the Wild West.
When my friend and I walked in, our server called hello from the back of the restaurant and let us know that we could sit wherever we would like. She was over shortly with fresh tortilla chips and salsa and to take our drink order. She was friendly and helpful during our meal. She was patient with our questions about menu items, and described them in detail (cactus!?). The only snafu during our meal was that we were given another table’s bill in error. This was quickly corrected by another server.
This is always the best part, isn’t it?
It is pretty difficult to mess up Mexican food. The tendency for it to be heavy on spice and cheese usually makes it a thumbs up in my book, regardless of where it is from. Rancho Relaxo features traditional Mexican fare. The menu is extensive and daunting for an indecisive gal like me. Even having perused the menu online before arriving, I could not settle on a choice. Everything on the menu sounds delicious, and I have a feeling Mexican food lovers can’t lose with any selection.
Drink orders were easy. I love the combo of lime and salt so a traditional Margarita was right up my alley. Fresh squeezed lime, Olmeca Gold tequila, and triple sec were shaken and served in a salt rimmed glass. This was delicious and tart.
My friend chose a strawberry daiquiri. It consisted of white rum blended with strawberry and ice.
After trying the delicious house made tortilla chips and salsa, we decided that we had to try these delicious chips with guacamole. What is a visit to a Mexican restaurant without fresh guac, after all?
We decided on Nachos Con Napales. These delicious corn chips were topped with napales, salsa verde, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese and sour cream. We requested the napales (cactus) on the side as we were not sure what it would taste like.
The napales turned out to be strips of seasoned cactus that had been lightly pickled. They are about the consistency of a mushroom and kind of resemble cooked green pepper strips. The cactus itself is extremely mild, with little flavour. The fact that it was pickled left it with a really nice tart and salty taste, similar to really mild jalapenos or pepperoncinis.
The nacho dish was delicious and we happily scarfed it down.
For our main course, we both chose fish dishes.
I had the Pascado Al Ajillo. Red snapper is a favourite fish of mine , so I could not resist trying it pan fried with fire roasted guajillo peppers and garlic. This dish was so tasty and flavourful, but not for the faint of heart when it comes to peppers.
It was seriously spicy.
I would come back to Rancho Relaxo just for this delicious dish. The fish was fresh and flaky with a delicious crispy coating. Spices and peppers were piled abundantly on top.
The meal was served with black beans, grilled vegetables and a mixed green salad. All very yummy, but I would have preferred if my salad had been served on its own. There were a lot of flavours going on my plate, and keeping them separate was a challenge
My friend chose the Fish Tacos for her dinner. Two flour tortillas were served filled with crisp fish, chipotle mayonnaise, lettuce and pico de gallo. She really enjoyed this dish and said it was something that she would definitely order again.
Rancho Relaxo has vegetarian options for all of their meat dishes. “faux chicken” and “faux steak” are offered as substitutions. How chic.
Having feasted on pre-meal nachos, we were too full for dessert, but the banana ice cream served with dipping tortillas drizzled with honey, cinnamon and Kahlua have intrigued me and must be investigated further on my next visit.
Most of the main dishes at Rancho Relaxo are between $14 and $17. This is reasonable as meals were made with fresh and authentic ingredients and servings are generous. Appetizers run from about $5- $10 and desserts will set you back about $8.
Rancho Relaxo was a delicious experience in traditional Mexican fare. It may be simple and traditional in décor but what it lacks in ambiance it makes up with its mouth watering menu. Whether you’re stopping in for nachos and margaritas or a filling Mexican meal, I think Rancho Relaxo is a great, low-key spot in the city.
Have you been to Rancho Relaxo?
Rancho Relaxo is located at 300 College Street (416) 920-0366