This past winter, the boyfriend took me on a little road trip to New Buffalo, MI for some shopping, a stop at the casino and an awesome dinner at a cozy, fully-decorated, Mexican restaurant in the heart of the quaint little city called ‘EL RANCHO GRANDE’. 

We’ve now been back several times, with each visit being as good as the last. The restaurant itself is quite big, with a dining room and bar section. We sat in the bar area each time, which has a casual and fun vibe to it. The bar area also has a TV for catching the Cubs games while we chow down. 

So! Aside from the homey vibe of the restaurant, let’s get to the good stuff – food and drinks. I rarely order margaritas at a Mexican restaurant, but the ones made at El Rancho Grande are pretty awesome. You can get them fruit flavored if you like, and I get the MANGO MARGARITA if I want it on the sweet side. I can’t remember which night we were there that the margaritas were the $5 special, but yay! 

While the menu has both Mexican, Tex-Mex and a few American items, we order the same thing every time. But before I get to that, CHIPS & SALSA are delivered to the table immediately upon seating. I know it sounds like a small thing, but when the chips are freshly fried and come with perfectly-balanced salsa, it’s a thing of beauty. Just try not to eat baskets of the chips like I do as you peruse the menu. 

Now, to the main order. We order the same thing every time we visit. The HUACHINANGO is a house specialty and it’s the one thing you must order when you go check out this place. 

The fried red snapper is not only fried to perfection, it’s also seasoned to perfection. The fish is firm yet flaky, and just the right texture to slice a piece off, add it onto a tortilla, and add your toppings. The dish is served with mojo (garlic sauce), and a sauteed onions/pepper concoction (I’m sure there’s a name for it, which I don’t know)… I love adding a bit of both sauces onto my fish, then top it off with a slice of avocado. I swear it is the perfect dish. I pretty much eat it in blissful silence until the crispy fish bones are left… and then I maybe pick at those too, much to the boyfriend’s dismay. LOL. No shame in my whole-fish-eating game! I don’t touch the eye though, so don’t worry. 

 The boyfriend must always get at least one or two of the TACOS DUNCAN to add to our whole dish order. 

The taco filling is a mix of steak, onions, potatoes and bacon. Yes, bacon. Yes, they are awesome. 

I’d love to show you what we have for dessert here, but unfortunately, it is devoured before a pic can be taken. 🙂  But! Get the fried ice-cream… and the fried cheesecake. They’re both delicious, and a good sweet ending to an awesome meal. 

New Buffalo, MI is only about an hour and a half away from Chicago (train or drive), and should be on your list of places to visit before the warm weather leaves us for the year. After some shopping at the antique and local stores, try El Rancho Grande for dinner and get the huachinango. 🙂 

El Rancho Grande – 310 E Buffalo St. New Buffalo, MI 

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