El Ranchero opens in Walmart plaza

Published 9:41 am Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Co-owner Chris Rodriguez serves a 45-ounce El Ranchero margarita from behind the bar of the new Mexican restaurant in Franklin. -- Dale Liesch | Tidewater News

FRANKLIN—Chris Rodriguez has held just about every job in the restaurant business in the last nine years.

This is his first time as owner.

The 23-year-old and business partner to Bolivar Ramos recently opened El Ranchero in the Walmart plaza at the former location of Don Poncho’s Cantina.

Although Mexican is certainly not a new type of ethnic cuisine for the city, Rodriguez insists the food on El Ranchero’s menu is different.

“It’s something new,” Rodriguez said of dishes inspired by Mexican and South American flavors.

There is a good variety and items are more exotic than typical Mexican fare.

“We have everything you want,” Rodriguez said. “If it’s not on the menu and we have the ingredients for it, we’ll make it for you.”

The owner’s favorite dish is called El Chikis, which is made with shrimp, chicken, Portobello mushrooms, rice and cheese.

Rodriguez was a waiter in Portsmouth before beginning the process of opening the Franklin restaurant 3½ months ago. The toughest thing to deal with has been paperwork.

“I want to learn to do it faster,” Rodriguez said.

The restaurant also has a full bar and prides itself on its margaritas that can be served frozen or on the rocks in flavors such as traditional lime, strawberry, peach and watermelon. The restaurant also offers a 45-ounce El Ranchero margarita.