Ranch Can Be Transcendent...
A good version is going to contain two of the great gifts of food to man:Mayonnaise and Butttermilk.I've written mash notes to mayo over the years.It's just so good that English doesn't really do it justice.I need to learn some more languages,maybe one day I'll come across some obscure dialect who's innate poetry can give mayonnaise the sweet justice it deserves.
Buttermilk is also innately delicious.If you can get your hands on some from an actual farmer you will have one of the great treasures of modern food.The kind you buy at Fiesta or Sun Harvest is good for cooking but lacks in drinkability .
The third essential ingredient in a good Ranch is Green Onions.The "Giant" ones are the best and they go good in anything but when combined with Mayo and Buttermilk they provide a beautiful backdrop to the richness of the dairy.
So tell me what your favorite source for Ranch Dressing is please.If you can think of something to dunk in it,preferably something that has been Deep Fat Fried then all the better.
Ranch dressing has become so ubiquitous, and some versions so dreadful, that it is easy to forget how good it is when it's freshly made. Bottled version are, in my opinion, horrors to be avoided at all cost.
Pluckers makes its own, and you can certainly get some fried stuff to dunk into it there. My issue with Pluckers is the uneven quality of its food. Sometimes realy tasty, sometimes not so much. The last time I went to the 183 location it was during football season and the servers were all caught up in watching the games. Apparently the cooks were, to, as I ended up with some decidedly poorly cooked wings and homemade potato chips. They should be crispy, no?
Austin's Pizza also serves up fresh Ranch dressing. Their regular salad has lots of good dippable-size vegetables like broccoli, and it's offered as an option with the cheese sticks (which are really just a sauceless cheddar & garlic pizza, get them on wheat crust,mmm).
Those are just the first two off the top of my head.
I haven't made my own ranch before, but it is something I would like to try at some point, because I do love me some ranch dressing every once in a while. When I have a craving for it, the store bought brand that I stick to is Ken's Steakhouse Ranch. To me its got the tangiest creamiest flavor without having that weird artificial sweetness that some of the other brands have. But that's just my personal taste. Its also the brand we exclusively used at the catering company I used to work for back in my college days.
As for what I like to dip in the ranch, My faves are still fried zucchini, fried mushrooms, fried pickles, and fried blue cheese stuffed olives. But I love a nice crudite anyday. I'm a sucker for broccoli.
I have yet to find the ubiquitous "crack ranch" in Austin. This is what I call the kind of ranch you are talking about. If memory serves, this is also what the ranch my mom used to make from the packet mix with mayo and buttermilk.
The only place I can think of off the top of my head that I've had it in the past like, 15 years, is Snuffer's in Dallas.
Oh God, I'm drooling just thinking about it. I need it. God I need it!
I was hoping you'd get more responses to this. I haven't found a really great ranch here, and I'm from Oklahoma (no booing, please), where ranch is like our state food. After moving to Austin, we were back in Tulsa eating pizza at this place that had one of my top two ranch dressings ever. (In OK, you must dip your pizza in ranch. It's the law.). I asked the waitress what their secret was, and it didn't look like she wanted to tell me, so I pulled out the "we drove 500 miles for this" and she gave in and just said it was from the Hidden Valley mix, but they used buttermilk and "heavy duty mayonnaise".
I'm not sure I've ever had any that was made completely from scratch or had real green onions. My issue tends to be how thick it is. Since I'm "dunking" things in, and not actually using it as a salad dressing, I need it to be thick. The ones I've had here might have had flavor going for them, but I either couldn't get enough on, or risked dripping it on me before it hit my mouth.
BTW, I went cold turkey putting ranch on my pizza. We used to go to Rockin' Tomato a lot and I'd get ranch there for my pizza. But, they made some changes in their ingredients and we haven't been there in a long time. I find that the better pizzas really don't need ranch after all. Who knew?
I can only really recall getting ranch here at Rockin' Tomato, Pluckers (tasty, but thin), Opal Divine's (extra dill, and super thin, almost pointless for dipping), and Hyde Park Bar & Grill (probably the best of the Austin ranch dressings, but it's been too long and I don't remember details). I'm sure there are more, I just can't remember them.
The ranch at Wing Stop is VERY good. My wife is a total ranch snob and prefers her own homemade for the occasional times that I can convince her to make it and she absolutely loves WS's ranch. Great on celery sticks and wings as well. They also toss their fries in salt as well as just a little sugar, yuum.
ps. thanks for the Snuffer's reference, now I want some of those mushrooms!! ;-)