Review: Avilas El Ranchito Laguna Niguel
Disclaimer: Lunch and drinks were provided by Avila’s El Ranchito. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Mama Avila came to California from Guanajuato, Mexico over 40 years ago with her delicious authentic Mexican recipes to create what is known today as Avila’s El Ranchito. There are 11 locations across Southern California all family owned. Being family owned guarantees the quality that Mama Avila expected from her recipes all those years ago.
Their original location in Huntington Park was where Mama Avila started it all in 1966. Slowly more locations started opening up being owned and operated by different family members, but with Mama Avila’s recipes being the center of it all.
Melodi and I visited the Laguna Niguel location and when we entered the location it was clean, well lit and cozy. There was a fully stocked bar and their bathrooms were adorable with cute sayings.
We were met by Martine who asked us whether we wanted to sit inside or outside. The day was lovely so we chose outside. There were several tables with umbrellas and a few tables without so you had your choice of sun or shade. There were also a few birds who would drop by to see if we had a morsel or 2 for them.
Marcus Avila is the Grandson of Mama Avila and is the owner of this location, located on the corner of Aliso Creek Rd and La Paz. He opened it in 2006. Marcus met us at our table and took our drink and appetizer order. Chips and salsa were brought while we waited for our drinks and Guacamole. The chips were hot and fresh and the salsa was perfect with just a little kick of heat.
We were brought 2 types of Margarita’s to try. A specialty margarita made with cucumber infused vodka and a traditional margarita. The cucumber margarita was refreshing and different. I really liked that one and will definitely order it again.
Our appetizer was their Guacamole Fresco. It was made with all fresh ingredients. Marcus told us they make the guacamole several times a day and do not do it tableside like other restaurants so they can assure that it will taste the same every time you come in.
We started with their famous Avila’s Chicken Soup. This is not just your typical Chicken Tortilla soup. It has everything under the sun in it. Onions, tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, rice, etc. The ingredients were freshly prepared that morning when the soup was made. Marcus told us that they are prepping the ingredients to their dishes long before they open and continue to prep through the whole day. He also told us that a New York business man paid over $180 in shipping costs to ship an order of this famous soup because it was the only thing that helped when he was sick!
Our first entrée was the standard combination platter with a hard shell beef taco, a cheese enchilada, beans and rice. The quality of the food was outstanding! Everything tasted good and the food was piping hot.
Our second entrée which could be eaten as an entrée or shared as an appetizer was called the Botana Platter. You could chose Steak, Carnitas, shrimp or a combination of the 3. We chose all 3. The shrimp came with a garlic butter and the steak and carnitas were perfectly cooked. The dish comes with flour and corn tortillas which come hot. The steak was my favorite but Melodi liked the shrimp.
Throughout the entire meal our drinks were always refilled and we were asked several times if we were doing ok. The service is fantastic! This is a great, family friendly restaurant with an owner that you will see out and about talking to his customers. He might even show you a picture of his kids!