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El Ranchito

Afton Mexican restaurant using fresh ingredients and friendly service to increase customer base

Published: Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 11:46 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 11:27 a.m. CDT

Word continues to spread about a small restaurant in Afton.

That restaurant — El Ranchito — is owned by brothers Alex Mandujano and Roger Lopez. They’ve been in business since January, but it wasn’t until recently that word really has begun to circulate about their tasty Mexican and Italian cuisines.

“It just takes a while when you’re a new restaurant to get your name out there,” Mandujano said. “But, we are getting busier now. People are coming in, trying our food, liking it and telling their friends. We hope to keep that going.”

One of the more regular customers is Joe Waigand of Afton who highly recommends El Ranchito’s triple combo fajitas that includes seasoned shrimp, beef and chicken fajitas.

“That’s one of my favorites,” Waigand said. “But you can’t go wrong with really anything on their menu.”

Mandujano said they are primarily a Mexican restaurant serving traditional dishes like fajitas, enchiladas, chimichangas and tacos. Mandujano said they take pride in making made-to-order dishes with fresh ingredients.

“You will taste the difference compared to the competition,” Mandujano said.

However, Mexican dishes aren’t the only staples of the El Ranchito menu.

Prior to coming to Afton, Mandujano worked at an upscale Italian restaurant in Chicago. Lopez was in charge of cooking and ordering for the restaurant.

“You won’t be disappointed with our fettuccine alfredo,” Mandujano said. “I use simple ingredients. It has great flavor and, if you try it once, you will want to order it a second time.”

Shannon Harper of Afton highly recommends the Italian menu.

“When they first opened, I stuck with food just on the Mexican menu,” Harper said, “but now I order both. I’d even say now I like their Italian menu better. It’s authentic food that’s freshly prepared.”

Still, both Harper and Waigand noted their favorite part about El Ranchito is the friendliness of the owners and staff.

“The owners almost always come out and talk to you after cooking your meal,” Harper said.

“They are polite,” Waigand added. “It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, the service is good and they are going to come out and talk with you.”

El Ranchito does have a liquor license and offers margaritas and domestic and imported beers. The restaurant is located at 183 E. Kansas St. in Afton on the southeast side of the square.

Hours at El Ranchito are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

The restaurant is closed on Mondays.

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