Restaurant of the Week: El Ranchero (Haven Ave.)

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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.

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  • DebB

    Are the two restaurants you mention connected to the El Ranchero on Foothill in Claremont? I’ve eaten there a couple times and enjoyed it. I used to have friends who were regulars there.

    [I suspect not. -- DA]

  • James Rodriguez

    There’s another El Ranchero at the Falcon Ridge shopping center in N. Fontana, 15 frwy/Summit, related?

    [I don't know that one, but I'll guess yes. -- DA]

  • Aaron in Rancho

    There is an affiliated El Ranchero also in Alhambra (with menus showing 19th & Carnelian address also) at Mission & Garfield. Every day Huevos Rancheros for $2.99…our goto place for weekday breakfast at work. That torta looks delish.

    [Alhambra and RC? That was unexpected. -- DA]

  • the craver

    My husband and I had a sudden craving for tacos at 8:30pm on a Saturday night. Not Del Taco tacos, but “real” tacos. I remembered seeing some coupons in one of those magazines for local businesses we got in the mail earlier in the week, so we decided El Ranchero looked good–based on the pictures, of course!

    Since we live close by, we called the Haven location at about 9 to see if they were about to close. We were told they close at 10pm. YAY!!! We pull up at 9:15 and I thought the tint on the windows was REALLY dark because it almost looked like the lights were off. We looked at each other because, of course, they couldn’t be closed as we had JUST called. Walked up to the door–locked. Called the number we had called 15 minutes earlier–no answer. Double checked that we had called the correct location–we had.

    We had to drive to Fontana (Foothill, past Etiwanda Ave) for some tacos. Thanks, El Ranchero! First, last, ONLY time we try to eat there.

    I’m sorry, but I had to vent when I saw that you reviewed the restaurant. I’m glad you had a better experience!

    [Odd that they would close and clear out 15 minutes after you phoned. I don't know how to explain that. I was there on a Wednesday night until 9:45 and the doors were still open. -- DA]