Ghosts of Movie Stars Walk These Halls….
… and they are as delighted with this place as I am.
Latest visit: August 23, 2012
First visit: September 20, 2010
When we travel, we often luck into charming, historic places for lodging or meals. El Rancho, in the heart of Indian country, dark and somber with a presence of dusty cowboys long gone, is one of these places. [So is the Plaza in the real Las Vegas.] Jane and I found El Rancho on Labor Day on our return from a great weekend in Sedona. A highway billboard beckoned us there.
The menu is a hoot. Many of the dishes are named after movie stars from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s who were billeted in the hotel during their movie shoots. The Ronald Reagan is a half-pound burger served with a side of Jelly Beans. The Doris Day sandwich is a sirloin steak on French bread; the John Wayne burger includes guacamole.
My friend Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos wrote in Gil’s blog on Sept. 9, 2010 in response to one of my postings there:
” …Thank you Larry for your El Rancho update! Your Gastronomic insight is always appreciated.
“As a Volunteer at ABQ Convention & Visitors Bureau info booths in Olde Town and the Sunport, I make it a point to recommend a stop at the El Rancho when I discern that tourists are headed West along old Route 66 and they agree they’ve enjoyed movies of the ’40s n ’50s, as so many European travelers do. I encourage their doing what I found myself enjoying during my first visit of discovering this gem of going up to the balcony of the autographed pic gallery and looking down to that lobby area while envisioning Ronnie Reagan, no longer dressed as a red dust-covered cowboy, but attired in a tux carrying a martini to Jane Wyman (no offense Nancy) resplendent in a 3/4 length, crinolined, red cocktail dress, as folks so dressed in that era, to introduce himself with that bassish drawl he is famous for, as Jane flips through the latest Ladies Home Journal or was it LIFE magazine. After a moment, Jane looks up and accepts the martini with her dainty, white-gloved hand.”
Oh yeah. The food.
Jane and I both had the special of the day, a Shredded Chicken Enchilada plate (3) Christmas style. The Red was quite picante and thankfully devoid of cumin. Thick and tasty, it would stand favorably among the best Reds in the Land of Enchantment. This, together with a very good Green, was slathered atop enchiladas that needn’t take a back seat to the best we have found around the Duke City. Good rice (red); very good refritos (=lard), and the price was right – $7.95. Try the Navajo tea (a hot herbal concoction). Good for what ails you while being delicious. We vowed to come back.
And come back we did. Twice within a week.
Just before Labor Day, 2012, we were touring with my in-laws to the Grand Canyon and Sedona with Bill and Stephanie, and their lovely daughter Susan. Nearing Gallup. Susan declared that she was hungry (she’s always hungry, it seems), so we stopped at the El Rancho for lunch. And we did the same thing five days later on the return trip to Corrales.
Kid’s Burger and Fries
I lost count of just how many burgers and rries Susan had during this trip. This one was as good as any she had. Tasty, juicy burger, right-sized for her tiny mouth, and the fries were specially good. . Crispy and tasty with no hint of the frying oil.
Green Chile Cheeseburger
You may remember that I am a GCCB aficionado, and I always order them competition style (bun, patty, green chile, and cheese — preferably American). That’s what I got, and it was correctly done, cooked to a nice medium rare, and the cheese was suitably stick-to-your-teeth gloppy. This hand-made patty was really good. And the fries: great. I had this GCCB on both visits this trip, and will surely have it again.
Jane’s brother, Nill, had one of his favorite sandwiches, a Reuben. Noe Bill, an easterner, usually gets his Reubens in a deli, so I was apprehensive. Who would think that a proper Reuben could be had in a cowboy Hotel in Indian Country? Well, the kitchen acquitted themselves. Bill said that it was among the best he has had. Juicy and nicely grilled.
Shredded chicken filling smothered in cheese and green chile, served with beans, rice, and lettuce and tomato. The green was tasty, smoky,and of medium piquancy (I prefer it hotter), but it was just right for Stephanie. This enchilada was every bit as good asthos available at some of the better Mexican/New Mexican places in the Duke City. Again, quite a surprise for a cowboy hotel.
Chicken Taco Salad
Jane is a sucker for taco salads. This one had ample diced chicken atop lots of very fresh lettuce. There was a small dish of red salsa with diced jalapeños mixed in, and it was very good. Fresh tasting and above medium piquancy. Jane declared it to be very good.
While driving through or staying in Indian country (loads of fine Trading Posts on 66), you need to stop here. Zuni is about an hour to the south, and Navajo places about an hour to the north. Two-hours out of Albuquerque. Best food in Gallup. The hotel allows dogs. Spend a day touring the area, and be sure to stay at this historic place.
El Rancho Hotel