El Ranchero, 9260 Haven Ave. (at 6th), Rancho Cucamonga
Famished after a Rancho Cucamonga council meeting, I despaired of finding a restaurant open at the locally ungodly hour of 9 p.m. But on my drive to the freeway, I noticed an “open” sign alight in the window of El Ranchero and made a hasty right turn.
There’s a smaller El Ranchero at 19th and Carnelian, which is a nice little mom and pop fast-food place. This is larger and newer. When I pulled in, students from the adjacent automotive trade school were congregating for a meal break.
I ordered an al pastor torta ($5.75), which came on an oval bun at least 8 inches long and was loaded with pork, refried beans, lettuce and tomatoes. Tasty and filling, it was one of the better tortas I’ve had in these parts.
With bare floors and a high, exposed ceiling, the interior is kind of cavernous, but there are plenty of windows, two flat screen TVs and four tourism poster-type paintings of Veracruz, Xochimilco, Guadalajara and, charmingly, Rancho Cucamonga. And the place is open until 10 p.m. Thanks, El Ranchero.