Breaking News Bar
posted: 10/23/2013 6:00 AM

Rancheros rounds up familiar Mexican favorites

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Lime-infused shrimp cocktail starts things off at Rancheros Mexican Grille & Cantina in Naperville.

       Lime-infused shrimp cocktail starts things off at Rancheros Mexican Grille & Cantina in Naperville.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • If there's still room in your belly, try the fried ice cream at Rancheros Mexican Grille & Cantina in Naperville.

       If there's still room in your belly, try the fried ice cream at Rancheros Mexican Grille & Cantina in Naperville.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Rancheros Mexican Grille & Cantina in Naperville is a family-friendly spot with a crowd-pleasing menu.

       Rancheros Mexican Grille & Cantina in Naperville is a family-friendly spot with a crowd-pleasing menu.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Rancheros Mexican Grille & Cantina in Naperville offers familiar Mexican fare in a casual, fun atmosphere.

       Rancheros Mexican Grille & Cantina in Naperville offers familiar Mexican fare in a casual, fun atmosphere.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • You won't go wrong with a beef burrito at Rancheros Mexican Grille & Cantina in Naperville.

       You won't go wrong with a beef burrito at Rancheros Mexican Grille & Cantina in Naperville.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
By Jennifer Olvera
Daily Herald Correspondent

As cheery and festive as any Mexican joint around town, Rancheros Mexican Grille & Cantina is the kind of family-friendly, date-friendly place people can't get enough of. After all, who doesn't appreciate a classic, Chihuahua-filled quesadilla (ours was tucked with onions, jalapenos and chicken, heaped with pico de gallo, guac and a generous dollop of sour cream).

Besides, it's an inviting place all around. Located at 523 Fairway Drive in Naperville, the exposed brick, luminous metal chandeliers, arching windows and wood barrel decor set the tone. Naturally, the large menu hits all the familiar notes, making it a group-friendly destination as well.

To start, go with the ubiquitous, lime-y Mexican shrimp cocktail: zingy, sweet-tinged cocktail sauce mingling with fresh avocado, onions and flecks of cilantro. Alternately, you can consider nachos with chicken or steak, queso fundito or lime-blasted shrimp ceviche.

There's a good-sounding house salad, too, with lettuce, corn, tomatoes, avocados, slivers of tortillas and black beans in peppercorn ranch dressing.

Moving onto entrees, it's again familiar territory. And there's nothing to squawk about when it comes to the oversized ground beef burrito, filled with classic accoutrements -- lettuce, cheese, refried beans -- topped with red sauce, with a mound of Mexican rice. Finishing it is challenging.

When faced with enchiladas and tacos, we opted for the latter. Admittedly the al pastor -- achiote-tinged pork -- with cilantro, onions and avocado were not the best we've ever had (Chicago's small taquerias ruin a person for that), but they certainly weren't bad. Skirt steak, chicken, grilled shrimp and ground beef are alternatives. Flour tortillas are homemade, and fajitas -- both singular chicken, steak or shrimp and combo versions -- are on offer as well.

As for dinner platters, the meat is wood-roasted, so expect half a chicken with singed pineapple, poblanos and jalapenos and the like. Say you're dining with someone impossible to please: There are classic and Tex-Mex-style burgers as well as ubiquitous chicken sandwiches, too.

If you've saved room for dessert, get the fried ice cream for sure. Crispy on the outside and still frozen within, it's good sharing fodder for the table if nothing else.

In the drinks department, fruit smoothies are an option, but margaritas are obviously the way to go. They're plenty boozy, mind you. That said, I'm a sucker for a good michelada. This clamato-based beer cocktail is a winner with its salted rim.

Service is efficient and friendly. Honestly, it's the kind of place where you know what to expect, and that's exactly what you receive. And there's something to be said for that.

• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here