Load of Bull

Tequila Ranch doesn't buck any trends

You can certainly skip the beef flautas ($15), which had no crispness in their tortillas and were topped with flavorless cheese. As for the grilled teriyaki mahi-mahi ($17), you don't need to go there either. The crosshatched and seasoned fish was fine; it might even have jumped from a C+ to a B had it not been surrounded by a "mango sauce" that tasted exactly like the red sweet-'n'-sour goo that comes on a well-known Chinamerican dish named after a certain General Tso. Luckily, the atrocious sauce was separated from the fish by a fortification of white rice, so the mahi was saved from contamination.

As for my habanera jack ribs ($18), there were better racks on display everywhere else at Tequila Ranch. I don't know where the kitchen gets its sauces — the bland, factory-flavored tomato salsa; the monstrous mango goo; the watery, green chip-dipping sauce; the ultracandied barbecue baste for their ribs — but I'd bet my sister's first-born child that they aren't making these miserable drizzles and dips anywhere on the premises. And they need to find another vendor.

Our complete dining experience brightened a bit with dessert: Cajeta ($7; in some parts of Latin America, the word is slang for vajayjay, which makes this sweet as much fun to talk about as it is to eat). It's a sort of creamy pudding made with dulce de leche, or milk cooked and sugared until it's thick enough to glop on a spoon. You just can't kill this dish; it's practically foolproof — and Tequila Ranch doesn't. It was delicious. The alluring "fresh raspberries and mint" promised on the menu turned out to be an empty tease, however. Maybe they were out of raspberries that night. The oversized sprig of mint clearly was not meant to be ingested.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

Tequila Ranch

5760 Seminole Way
Hollywood, FL 33314

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Out of Town

Details

Tequila Ranch, 5760 Seminole Way, at Seminole Paradise, Hollywood. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday noon till 11 p.m.; Mondays dinner only 6 till 11 p.m.; extended bar hours nightly. Call 954-556-7430.

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So how did TR compare with Chi-Chi's?

By our out-of-towner's account, the mid-'70s was the Golden Age of Tex Mex. It ended when a deadly hepatitis A outbreak was traced to a Pittsburgh Chi-Chi's in 2003. With it went cheap, delicious burritos, fried ice cream, and nationwide satisfaction.

Tequila Ranch isn't carrying on that legacy. Nor would we even ask so much of it. Just please, don't freeze the guacamole.

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