Steve's Gastronomic Home Page

El Rancho Escondido (Closed)

14261 Montana Ave.
El Paso, TX

El Rancho Escondido east of El Paso on US 62

Many of us remember El Rancho Escondido from past trips out Montana Avenue where it seemed to be the last chance for a good meal for at least 100 miles unless some small mom & pop diner could be found near the Carlsbad Caverns or the Guadalupe Mountains. The food at El Rancho Escondido brought customers from El Paso even if they were not making a trip east on U.S. 62 so that it always seemed to have a good crowd. The feeling of being "out of the city" was always relaxing, even if the growth of housing developments east of the city no longer made this a reality.

The fact is, though, that El Rancho Escondido is alive and well. It has gone through changes and I certainly had the perception that it had closed. It reopened on September 18, 2007, though, and since that time has been attracting customers for its steaks and Mexican food.

The city limits of El Paso have expanded to the point that El Rancho Escondido is now just about a mile east of the city, but commercial development (especially restaurants) is sparse along this stretch of Montana Avenue. Even if El Rancho faces more competition in the future, it will likely remain the best choice for upscale dining.

Rib eye steak with green chiles
Rib eye steak with green chiles and red enchilada

The Rib Eye Steak with Green Chiles is a good example of the food that can be considered El Rancho Escondido's specialty. The steak was quite good, and I would say was comparable or better than the steak served at Cattleman's. I do not remember if any other types of steaks were served, but the rib eye was recommended, so this is the one I ordered. The green chiles on top were fresh and added a Southwest flavor that made this more memorable than some of the steaks that can be ordered elsewhere.

In the past I remember the Red Enchiladas being one of the reasons to visit El Rancho Escondido, with the red chile being one of the outstanding examples in the El Paso area. The one served at my most recent meal was not quite as spectacular as I had remembered on previous trips, but it was very good nonetheless. I have just about given up trying to determine who has the best red enchiladas in El Paso, and I will just say the one here was one of the better ones. It was spicy without being over the top, and had a good flavor. I had remembered the ones in the past being made with lard, and I am not sure how they are cooked now but it seemed to be vegetable oil. If so this is fine with me, since I am trying to eat a more healthy diet, but if you are concerned it would be a good idea to ask before ordering. In any case, the flavor is good enough now to be enjoyable.

The steak and enchilada shown in the picture is the "large" order (a smaller steak is also available), and in my case was large enough to serve two people. This order was very similar to the tampiqueña style steak served at other restaurants, but I thought the meat was better here than I have found at most other places.

An order of Chile con Queso turned out to be rather runny with more of a liquid composition than I would have liked. This made me think the three or four "specialties" served at El Rancho are probably better than the rest of the menu, but I may have just found the one item that was not prepared the way I would like. I know in Mexico there are quite a few different ways to prepare chile con queso that are not necessarily the same as are commonly served in the United States.

The restaurant has a non-smoking section (unlike restaurants inside the El Paso city limits where smoking is totally banned inside the building). I did not find the arrangement of the non-smoking section to be very satisfactory, and I did not get completely smoke-free air until some other customers left that were sitting in the adjacent room. The outside patio would have been very pleasant, but this was also designated for smoking customers, leaving me with little choice for seating. El Rancho is a fairly upscale restaurant in the food that is served, but I am not sure I can say the same about the atmosphere.

I have heard there are other good dishes at El Rancho Escondido, so it may be worthwhile to visit one of El Paso's more "historic" restaurants (I certainly thought it ended up being worth the trip). The whole point of the restaurant is to allow customers to relax, get out of the city traffic, and have an experience that is more than the typical lunch hour or dinner that would be served at one of the busier restaurants.



Cuisine: Mexican El Paso
Cost: $$
Smoking: Non-Smoking Section

Chile Index:

Most Recent Visit
May 24, 2008

Number of Visits: 3

Best Item
Rib Eye Steak

Special Ratings
Rib Eye Steak:
Red Enchilada:
Chile con Queso: