The Mexican folk art and Frida Kahlo prints went well with the smell of sauteed onions coming from the kitchen.
1830 Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, San Diego
I couldn’t believe the sunshine, 75 degrees, a soft wind playing over my skin. My husband and I grinned as we made our way from where we’d parked our car on Narragansett Avenue to Ranchos on Sunset Boulevard in Ocean Beach. This was November, for heaven’s sake!
We had a rare Sunday morning without our son and had decided to go out to breakfast. We wanted something spicy but with the option of eggs and bacon (or some variation thereof). Ranchos Natural Foods seemed a good choice. Its extensive menu of 37 breakfast items offers enough possibilities to satisfy any whim.
The storefront is unassuming, but inside you’re met with a rambling interior. A kind but harried waiter told us to sit where we liked. Because of the glorious day, the small side patio off the restaurant was full, so we found seats in the eclectically decorated main dining room. I stared up at a wall of Mexican folk art and Frida Kahlo paintings and inhaled the rich smell of sautéed onions wafting from the kitchen. I eyed tables around me, trying to determine what I wanted to order.
The California Omelet
Ranchos specializes in healthy Mexican food, especially vegetarian and vegan options. The menu lays out the owner’s vision:
“In 1995, Marcos Mouet realized his dream of opening a restaurant that served fresh, mostly organic, home-made Mexican cuisine. That dream of making nutritious and delicious food from scratch began when he was a young man in his 20s. He had fond memories of this time, before refrigeration, when most people lived on ‘Ranchos’ and grew their own food. Thus, the restaurant Ranchos was opened with the traditional spirit of the ‘Ranchos’ of Mexico. As Marcos always says, ‘Let’s get back to Ranchos!’ His continuing vision of creating a real Ranchos is on the drawing table. This will be a place where people can re-connect to the delectable visions and aromas of the fertile soil and feel the spirit of what living with nature is like. So come on everybody — Let’s get back to Ranchos!”
Ranchos in Ocean Beach (not to be confused with the one in North Park, though they share a similar vision) is known for vegetarian and vegan options, tasty moles, seafood, and whole-wheat tortillas.
Most people think of this place primarily for lunch or dinner — indeed, the last time we were here, my husband and I both ordered Enchiladas Verdes, where a fresh-tasting tomatillo-based green sauce is slathered over chicken-stuffed corn tortillas and accompanied by black beans and rice ($8.95). Vegans or vegetarians can have the enchiladas stuffed with mushrooms or cheese. Portions are substantial without being excessive, and all ingredients are fresh and flavorful.
This particular morning, however, we wanted to try the breakfast, and we were not disappointed. After taking our seats, we received a basket of crispy chips and a homemade salsa that had a great kick. Sipping freshly squeezed orange juice, we perused the menu. My husband immediately seized upon Huevos Rancheros ($6.95), his go-to Sunday breakfast. The eggs were cooked over-easy, the smoky tomato sauce was full of onions and peppers, and the lightly fried tortilla was the perfect platform to absorb the juices of both eggs and sauce. It came with generous helpings of refried beans and rice and corn tortillas.
Wheat grass ready for juicing
Torn between Turkey Chorizo con Huevo ($8.95), Chicken Machaca con Huevo ($8.95), Chilaquiles with Scrambled Eggs (or tofu for vegetarians) ($8.95), or Eggs over easy with Turkey Sausage and Potatoes ($5.95), I opted instead for a California Omelette ($8.95). I had them add turkey bacon to the avocado, tomatoes, and cheese. Since Jim had gotten beans with his dish, I ordered fried potatoes — that way I could have a combination of Mexican and “American” breakfasts.
The omelets here are made with three eggs and stuffed to overflowing. I was mostly pleased with my decision to add bacon; it lent flavor to an otherwise mild dish. Turkey bacon, however, doesn’t crisp well, so it was chewier than I like. The sliced avocado draped across the top was ripe and creamy. With an added slather of fresh salsa, the omelet offered a nice balance of spice and creaminess — an ideal Sunday-morning dish.
The potatoes were only so-so — plain fried chunks. Generally, I prefer hash browns because, to my taste, they mix better with eggs. Since this is a Mexican establishment, I won’t hold the spuds against Ranchos, though next time I will get the beans.
I’m eager to come back for dinner. The impressive organic salad bar in the main dining room features fresh local produce (it’s sold by weight). And some of the “Rancho Substantials,” such as Seafood Chile Relleno with Black Bean Shrimp Tostada ($14.95) or the Pescado Empapelado (with fresh Salmon) ($13.95), look intriguing.
But enough daydreaming of future meals. After scraping our plates clean, it was time to amble off into the brilliant sunshine. We needed a stroll down to the Ocean Beach Pier to help digest our breakfast.
Vibe: Eclectic tropical hippie cantina
Fare: Mexican breakfasts; veggie burritos; mole enchiladas; organic salad bar
Seating: Six tables on the patio; 15–20 tables inside
Must Try: Huevos Rancheros; Enchiladas Verdes