by Lynne Beeson
El Rancho Restaurante Y Pupuseria Address: 210 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg PA 17101 Phone: 717-317-9239
Hours: Open 7 days a week. Wednesdays open for lunch only 11-3.
Here is another great find for eat in, takeout, or Uber delivery to pair with your favorite casual wines. Authentic Guatemalan cuisine is prepared lovingly in this kitchen. This place can render a business chore type trip downtown something one actually looks forward to, just for the stop at El Rancho on the way to the car for takeout. Guatemala food such as nachos, burritos, and enchiladas are just as delicious as you’ll find in your favorite Mexican restaurant–and much cheaper. Guatemala food and drink are primarily influenced by the country’s Mayan and Spanish cultures with additional influences from African and Caribbean cultures.
Ready for a taste of Guatemala’s food? No Guatemalan dish is more emblematic of the country than Pepian and you will find it here. This spicy and slightly bitter stew is a fusion between Maya and Spanish cuisine. What gives Pepian its characteristic flavor are toasted pumpkin or sesame seeds, tomatoes, and squash or pumpkin. If stew’s too much, or not your thing, try the Chiles Rellenos: Chile peppers stuffed with rice, cheese, meat, and/or vegetables (often covered with egg batter and fried). And you must try the Pupusas no matter what. This traditional street food comes to Guatemala from neighboring El Salvador. It’s a tortilla normally filled with refried black beans, cheese or pork cracklings, fried to a slight crisp. Pupusas are topped with curtido, or pickled cabbage, a light refreshing garnish. I highly recommend the Pupusa with carnitas and extra cheese. Just one of which, makes a filling lunch for only $2.50. If filling wasn’t the case, I’d love to try desserts one day – but for now I’ll just preview dessert.
Featured desserts include Tres Leches Cake, a cold dessert cake soaked in three types of milk, including evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and cream. Flan, a wobbly, golden-colored caramel custard with some liquid caramel on top. Or for something a little lighter you could try the Horchata, a traditional drink made from rice, sugar, almonds and a bit of cinnamon. Tasty.
This is BYOB so, what wine is regional? None! Guatemala is too close to the equator for viticultural comfort. There’s lots of sugar cane grown, however, and many rums produced and exported. Pinot Noir has been rumored to be produced but won’t likely replace Oregon or Burgundy ones on our tables! Pinot Noir would be a nice wine to pair with many of these dishes. The food is clearly made from fresh ingredients and is truly delicious. The menu is simple, yet includes everything from soup and salad to more hearty fare of burritos, tostadas, and tortas, and a selection of dinner entrees. And you can have your selection made to order. Kid and grandkid friendly too. Check it out next time you’re downtown.