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PHX Ranch Market essentials

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I'm planning on making a trek down to Phoenix Ranch Market (III) when I have some time in the next couple of days. I know what MY favorite items are from what I've tried, but am hoping to benefit from everyone else's experience. So, what are your favorite standouts and "must-buy" items from Ranch Market? This includes the food court (best food, meat, aguas frescas, etc.), and the market itself for take-home goods.

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  1. Haven't eaten at the Ranch Market yet, but some items we buy to take home: Great bargains with produce (Wednesdays are additional one-day specials - this week things like limes 4 lbs/99, cherries .89/lb, canteloupe 6 lbs/.99), dried chiles, jamaica, tortillas, fresh tortilla chips, dried beans, fresh masa, cheese/queso (panela, asadero, cotija, Oaxacan string cheese), crema, mole paste (in plastic tubs), fresh lard, Tapatio hot sauce, fresh salsa (especially the salsa de molcajete roja), and in the meat department, always stock up on ranchera/flap steaks - great for stir-fries and carne asada - and pork shoulders to make carnitas when they're on sale (this week .78/lb). Thursdays are additional sales in the meat department where they run one-day specials. If they're grilling outside, we always get the pollo asado special - two whole grilled chickens, a dozen warm corn tortillas, and containers of salsa verde and salsa roja for $10.00.

    1. I buy crema con sal in bulk. Tortillas, chorizo, queso fresco and the smallest chickens that I can find anywhere in the valley -- perfect for Zuni roasted chicken. I always buy beef cheeks, pork shoulder and flap meat when I'm there and hit the produce section pretty hard. All this shopping is made even better with a papaya-pineapple agua fresca in hand as well as a take-out container of rajas con crema from the food court.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Sherri

        Zuni roasted chicken sounds really interesting - do you have a recipe that you'd be willing to share? thanks

          1. re: hohokam

            Thanks for linking this recipe, hohokam. I wasn't paying close attention to the recent posts and missed mesafoodie's question.

            1. re: hohokam

              Thanks! Looks like a great recipe to try.

              1. re: mesafoodie

                The Zuni Cafe Cookbook (one of my favorites) was a past Cookbook of the Month, so lots of Chowhound reports, pictures, and helpful tips on the fantastic roast chicken with bread salad here:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/355991

        1. Yup, just grilled up 4.5 pounds of those flap steaks this weekend. My carne marinade needs some work.

          I am crazy about their salsa verde and salsa roja -- used to prefer the molcajete, but either they have changed the recipe or I've just tired of it. I like to get a tub of those dolce crystallized fruit things; they keep forever and make interesting garnishes or snacks. I never fail to get an assortment of New Mexico chile powders from the spice aisle, for my salsa blend, and a bunch of tropical flavored yogurts, and an assortment of cans of fruit nectars to satisfy my bellini obsession. Oh, and the little shaker-bottles of chile-salt for sprinkling on sliced fruit, if I'm out.

          Last time I went, I could not find those fist-sized pink and white marshmallows that so thrill my nieces when they visit. Are those a seasonal item? Do they have a traditional use, beyond delighting the young at heart and making massive luscious S'Mores?

          2 Replies
          1. re: themis

            themis i have seen those marshamallows at food city, and bashas

            1. re: themis

              Now that you mention it, we didn't like the salsa de molcajete roja as much last time - more tomato, and not as spicy.

            2. Tripe

              Fresh chorizo

              Flap meat

              Nopales

              1. Foodwise, I am fond of the tortas and my favorites are the Cubano and the Mexicano. Both sandwiches are very large. As others have posted, there are very good deals on fresh produce and I usually pick up some nopalitos which are great on salads. Their selection of Mexican cheese is outstanding and my favorite agua fresca is the tamarindo.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Poerz

                  Are the nopalitos fresh or canned? if fresh, do you need to cook them before putting on a salad? thanks

                  1. re: mesafoodie

                    Canned? No way. We put them only salads raw but you can blanch them.

                    1. re: Poerz

                      Thanks. Do you peel them or not before using raw?

                2. Good tips so far, keep 'em coming. Love their salsa roja, hope the quality hasn't changed in the last month or so, Rubee. Maybe it was just an issue with that particular batch?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: crsin

                    That's what I'm hoping! It was a couple of months ago, so will have to make another Ranch Market run soon.

                  2. What everyone else said, and a Sonoran hot dog. And empanadas, especially the platano and pineapple ones.

                    One of the girls at work always brings cakes from there that are delicious. The tres leches is pretty good, and there was one with strawberries inside...

                    Oh, and my new hostess gift is one of those handheld press citrus juicers. I think they are like $5 there, which is $15 less than anywhere else. One of those, a little basket of limes, and a bottle of tequila will make you a very popular guest.

                    Just like Lee Lee's, I try to buy one new thing every time I go and then google it when I get home.

                    1. When it's available at the food court, there is an outstanding chicken in a cream sauce with green chiles. This used to be available on Fridays at the 16th St. location, but I haven't been there for awhile. Try any of the delicious agua frescas -- usually including guava, mango, pina, watermelon, etc., and an excellent horchata.

                      1. My favorites are the coconut and tamarind aguas frescas. The al pastor is pretty good at the snackbar. Also, I like to pick up some of those mexican chocolate disks to make hot chocolate, mexican custard ice cream, etc.

                        1. Do they have a website? My searches keep taking me to a Network Solutions page but, I can see some store pictures in various personal web pages.

                          Thanks!

                          4 Replies
                            1. re: johnseberg

                              That link is not working for me for some reason.

                              This should work:

                              http://www.prosranch.com/Default.aspx

                              1. re: crsin

                                Thanks! My ISP must have been having some problems earlier today because that was the link I was trying to use.

                                1. re: Sid Post

                                  Yeah, the link above mine is working now. Not sure what was going on this morning. Oh well...no problem.

                          1. the made to order fried shrimp tacos in the seafood department are unbelievable!!!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: biga290

                              I'll have to remember that for next time. A current favorite is the filling gordita with carnitas. I can never finish one, but it's SO good.

                              -----
                              Phoenix Ranch Market III
                              1602 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

                              Phoenix Ranch Market
                              5833 S Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ

                              Phoenix Ranch Market
                              3223 W Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ

                              Phoenix Ranch Market
                              6730 W Camelback Rd, Glendale, AZ

                              1. re: Rubee

                                Just updating that our most recent purchases of the salsa de mocajete roja were sublime -- lots of roasted chile, perfect heat and bright flavor. Maybe it's a seasonal variation, and is improved after the fall chile crop?

                                Also brought home a barras de pastel (bar-shaped cake, is my guess at translation?) with topped with glazed peaches and strawberries, filled with whipped cream and chopped fruit frosting. The cake was a velvety, moist vanilla sponge and the frosting light and not sweet or greasy. A bargain for the price. I had already been addicted to their conchas (sweet bread pastries) but this shows that the bakery deftly handles the confections, as well.

                                1. re: themis

                                  I agree! Should have added that the last couple of batches of that salsa were spot-on, and SPICY to boot.

                                  The cake sounds great. We've only bought the conchas, some other pan dulce, and the bolillos. I've been wanting to try a cake, maybe that one or the tres leches...

                                  -----
                                  Phoenix Ranch Market
                                  1118 E Southern Ave, Mesa, AZ

                                  Phoenix Ranch Market II
                                  5802 W Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85035

                            2. I always pick up fresh masa para tortillas,it's the best I have ever found anywhere,for making your own tortillas maiz.
                              I can't pass up their horchata.
                              And I don't know how I got started on their fried chicken when there are so many things to choose from in the food court but it is really good,It's crispy and not all coating like so many places.
                              The tortas are great and so are the street tacos.Actually I can't remember anything that I didn't like.