There was much bemoaning the loss of the Tee Jaye’s Country Place restaurant at the corner of Dublin Road & Grandview Avenue when it closed several years ago. Eventually, the sorrow was replaced with rejoicing when a Tex-Mex restaurant opened in its place. For the most part, Rancho Alegre is your standard variety fare, similar to perennial favorite El Vaquero. Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, margaritas, Mexican beers, fajitas and more. What makes Rancho Alegre stand out is the fact that they’re somewhat unique in their location (there’s no closer Tex-Mex to Downtown Columbus except for La Fogata in the Short North) and Rancho Alegre has always managed to be significantly cheaper than a trip to El Vaquero.
Unfortunately, the latter part has changed over the years, as I’ve noticed small price increases over time at Rancho Alegre, which has put them on par with other similar fare. That isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but it does take away part of what originally turned me into a fan.
The Margaritas ($4.75 for a small, pictured above) at Rancho Alegre are worth mentioning as they remain quite strong and quite cheap during the happy hour timeframe. Nothing too fancy to be found here, but some customization is available as they serve them both on the rocks and frozen, with or without the salt. Just make sure you bring a designated driver if you dare to order the large size.
Like nearly all Tex-Mex restaurants, chips and salsa are complimentary. Chips are warm and fresh, and the default salsa is a bit on the spicy side most times, with a consistency right in the middle of water and chunky. I opted to upgrade with a side of guacamole ($2.75), but found that it was a pretty small portion for the price. The guac contained tomatoes and onions, but was served to the side rather than mixed in, which I found a little odd. Would recommend sticking to the salsa.
The Yolandas ($9.75) entree is made up of three shredded chicken enchiladas served with rice, and guacamole salad – lettuce, tomatoes and guacamole. This is a nice accessible specialty with familiar flavors, and flavorful ingredients. The shredded chicken is seasoned but not spicy, and the portion is large enough to take some home for leftovers.
The Grilled Shrimp & Scallops ($10.49) is another specialty dish at Rancho Alegre, which is practically served fajita-style. The seafoods are grilled along with peppers, onions and tomatoes, and served with rice, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and three soft flour tortillas for wrapping. Small bay scallops are used for this dish, but everything works well together. The price works out to be just slightly cheaper than ordering the shrimp fajitas, so you can’t go wrong with this dish.
The food at Rancho Alegre is good for its genre, and service is friendly and fast, but with the climbing prices I’m starting to rethink my options when it comes to satisfying my Tex-Mex craving. Of course, there’s always lunch specials at Rancho Alegre that can keep the costs down a bit if you’re in the area during lunch hours.
Rancho Alegre is located at 1075 Dublin Road, near the intersection at Grandview Avenue.