Best Tex-Mex 2012 | El Ranchito | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Kathy Tran

El Ranchito may not bill itself as a Tex-Mex restaurant, but there's a Tex-Mex section on the menu with tacos, burritos and enchiladas. The fajitas turn heads with a trail of smoke and steam wafting behind the cast-iron plate like an old jalopy with bad valves, and most things are flanked by go-to rice and beans. Semantics aside, this place serves up all the classics you expect when dining at a Tex-Mex restaurant, with lots of other dishes waiting to tempt you out of your comfort zone. Try the cabrito, grilled baby goat you can strip clean from the bones before using the meat to stuff warm pliable tortillas. Wash it down with enough of their margaritas that you can really join the party. The mariachi band here plays loudly as they bounce from table to table and stir up the crowd. And if that's not festive enough for you, come back when an Elvis impersonation competition turns the whole place into Las Vegas meets the Mission.

Beth Rankin

Hey, you two guys. You really want to win this election? I have one name to drop and she's a real momentum builder. Lurlene, Pecan Lodge's smoker, may not look that great — she's caked with grease and smoke, and is maybe even rusting in a few spots — but strap her to the back of your tour bus and let the great aroma of Texas barbecue leave a scented campaign trail in your wake. Adults will chase you through suburban neighborhoods for a mere taste of your brisket. Their children will run behind hoping for a morsel of smoked sausage. And puppies will run behind those children, galloping with tongues unleashed while hoping to lap up the smallest dripping of grease. Film all of this. Run it in slow motion. You'll have the greatest campaign commercial of all time and people will vote for you based on the image alone.

Fried chicken is an all-American food for an all-American candidate. Grab a take-out bucket and stage it with a blanket on a grassy knoll for your next photo op. The best part is, this bucket is not a prop. Grab a drumstick and squeeze a little house-made sriracha on it. Take a bite and feel the crisp skin and taste the vibrant heat. Sure, the fried chicken's fancy, and you'll be branded as an elitist (just wait till you're seen with Sissy's caviar-topped deviled eggs) but you have staffers who can put a spin on anything and this fried bird is too good to worry about it.

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