10 Favorite Products to Buy at El Rancho Supermercado
El Rancho Supermercado, a small chain based in Garland, Texas, entered the Houston market in 2018, where it’s grown to eight stores. (There are also 20 stores in Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and Odessa.) It is co-owned by the Nafal family and Albertson’s, a grocery chain that left the Houston area in 2002.
I like shopping here because it reminds me of local markets in Mexico. I always come away with items for restocking my pantry, as well as with products I’ve never tried before. Here are ten of my favorite things to buy at El Rancho.
Tacos: One of the first things you will see upon entering El Rancho is a taqueria serving a variety of tacos, which are a full meal when accompanied by sides such as rice and beans. There’s nothing like snacking on a couple of tacos to get you in the mood for shopping, and at a cost of $1 to $2 each, it’s also inexpensive. Choose from fillings like fajita, barbacoa, pastor, carne asada and many others.
Tortillas: At the in-house tortilleria, I like to buy fresh tortillas, both corn and flour, that are still warm. I also like the tortilla chips and tostadas, which tend to be thicker than others and are also prepared from scratch. When I’m in the mood to make my own, I pick up some fresh masa.
Pan Dulces: It’s hard to walk by the panaderia without picking up some pan dulces, or sweet breads. I am always astonished at the variety of baked goods available, including an assortment of cookies. The conchas (shells), churros (long, round fried-dough sticks) and empanadas (pastry pockets stuffed with different fruit fillings) are among my favorites.
Carne: At the meat counter, I buy the pre-seasoned meat, trimmed and seasoned by skilled butchers and sold by the pound. Among my favorites are the beef and chicken fajitas, the carne asada, costillas de puerco (pork ribs) and the chorizo suelto. I also like the thick-cut bacon, which is sold for $3.40 a pound, which is a particularly good value. Here you will also find chicharones (pork rinds). If you’ve been to a market in Mexico, you may have watched the skin puff up the minute it’s placed in a big vat of boiling oil. You can also purchase manteca de puerco (lard).
Ceviche: This is one of my favorite sections of the store. Here, I can find a selection of fresh-made, ready-to-eat ceviches such as shrimp, tilapia, aguachile (a spicier version of ceviche) and coctel de camarones (a tomato-based shrimp and avocado salad). El Rancho’s staff also makes an array of fresh salsas, pico de gallo and guacamole for those times when I just can’t face chopping all those vegetables and herbs.
Milagro Corn Tortillas: I like these tortillas for a number of reasons. First, these are made with non-GMO, stone-ground corn, water and lime (not the fruit but the traditionally used calcium hydroxide, which was originally derived from ash) — nothing else. Second, the tortillas are a beautiful yellow with dark specks of corn. Third, is because of the rich corn flavor. These remain soft when heated on a comal and are also thicker than many tortillas, giving these a homemade texture.
Fud Ham: I am particularly fond of Fud, a brand of Mexican ham. The savory flavor is very similar to French ham and it is also just as juicy and not too salty. Fud also makes an excellent, peppery head cheese, which I use along with melted queso Oaxaca and avocado for making tortas.
Hellmann’s Mayonesa Con Limon: When making potato or rice salads, homemade ranch or Caesar dressings, a sandwich or burger, deviled eggs or elote, the type of mayonnaise used makes a big difference. I use Hellman’s Mayonesa, made in Mexico with lime juice, because it has a slightly tangy flavor that tastes better than other store-bought mayos.
Winnuts Papas Caseras: I like these potato chips, which are kettle-cooked, thick-cut and crispy. These taste like homemade chips. Plus, the chips are substantial and less likely to break when scooping up dip. While the chips are simply potatoes cooked in vegetable oil, they are so addictive that it’s hard to stop eating them. The flavors are salted, jalapeño and spicy diablo, salsa negra (spicy Worcestershire sauce) and lemon/lime.
La Molienda Mixnut Bar: El Rancho offers a variety of Mexican candy. While some are too sweet for my taste, the ones made with coconut, dulce de leche (caramel), candied fruit and nuts are among my favorites. The La Molienda Mixnut Bar is a peanut brittle bar made with raisins, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. It is crunchy, tasty and very filling, and makes for a great and satisfying snack.
What are your favorite products at El Rancho? Let us know in the comments!