For Chilean empanadas and a lot more, Rancho Chileno is hard to beat

Jan 26, 2015 | 6 comments

By Larry Schunk

A few years ago, I spotted this place across the airport parking lot and gave iCapture larry2t a try as hunger had set in. I left my car in the airport lot. The airport wasn’t charging for parking yet.

It was midday and the place was filling up. Seating was (and still is) available outside and in. The all-male servers, well-dressed in black and white with bow ties, presented a fairly large menu, all in Spanish, but easy to read. Since the name of the place was Rancho Chileno, the empanadas seemed like a good choice.

Outside dining at Rancho Chileano

Outside dining at Rancho Chileano

Later, I learned they’re the dish many people gochl rancho5 there for specifically and some of my expat friends claim that they’re best empanadas in town, hands-down.

They come with beef, pork, or cheese. One of each, please! However, ordering all three was a bit of a mistake; they’re quite large. But I did manage to work my way through them. It was a lot of food, but nicely prepared and tasty. The pico de gallo (closer to that than ají) was especially good and remains some of Cuenca’s spiciest ever. If you like it a bit on the picante side, this will hit the spot.

Rancho Chileano is best known for its empanadas.

Rancho Chileano is best known for its empanadas.

For whatever reason, I didn’t return until lately, though now it’s approaching “habit” status. I’ve enjoyed the empanadas again, but have lately been sampling other choices.

The corvina apanada is a large nicely fried piece of fish accompanied by a bit of rice, French fries, and a small salad. This would make a great dinner as well.

My friend had the lomo fino completo and found the beef quite tender and tasty. It came with rice covered by a fried egg and French fries.

A return visit led me to the corvina a la plancha. This is much the same as the apanada, just with no breading on the fish. It was slightly undercooked for my taste, but not so much so that I bothered to send it back. The fish was fresh and tasty.

Take a bite out of the corvina a la plancha.

Take a bite out of the lomo fino completo.

You can easily find this place by taking a bus or taxi to the airport and walking across the parking lot. It has been there since 1967, which speaks volumes for the success of a restaurant anywhere in Cuenca. There’s a second location just around the corner on Av. España past the airport. I assume this is for overflow, but appears not not be open during the Tranvia construction.

I’ve eaten here at least a dozen times and have never been disappointed.

Rancho Chileno, Elia Liut junto al Aeropuerto, just off Av. España; Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday to Saturday; Telephone: 286-6411; Email: ranchochileno@etapanet.net

Have any restaurant tips or inside dining information you would like to share with Larry? Contact him at cuencaeats@gmail.com.

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