Monday, May 17, 2010

El Rancho Opens in Austin

The first Austin location of Dallas-based El Rancho Supermercado opened at the corner of 183 and Ohlen a few weeks back. I’ve been meaning to go over there since it’s now the closest market to our house and the first one within easy walking distance since Albertson’s shut down in 2006. I finally made it over for a quick look-see yesterday.

The first thing you see when you walk into El Rancho is a giant wedding cake with a water feature. They have a full-service panaderia with a colorful assortment of pan dulce, polvorones, bollilos and the like. I didn’t buy anything, but I’ll be interested to taste how they stack up against Panaderia Chuy in the same shopping center. El Rancho sells inexpensive homemade tortillas and whole roasted chickens for $6.99, but the latter would have to be pretty amazing to lure me away from El Pollo Regio across the street. A neighborhood pollo throwdown is imminent.

El Rancho’s produce appears middling, but they’re selling four pounds of Roma tomatoes for $1 this week. They had some good deals on marinated fajita meat and you could get four cans of La Sierra charro beans for just $3. They also have an extensive array of Mexican-made salsas and more Goya product than I knew existed.

Overall, El Rancho reminds me of a smaller, more Mexican version of Fiesta. Unlike Fiesta, I wouldn’t characterize El Rancho as a true full-service supermarket. You can buy sundry items there, but the selection is poor and the prices aren’t competitive. Even so, Fiesta is definitely taking notice of El Rancho’s presence. We’ve started receiving Fiesta’s circulars in the mail along with a coupon for $10 off a $35 purchase.

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