The Ranch House, Santa Fe: Top-notch Upscale American
I have to admit I was nervous when the excellent Josh's BBQ closed so Josh could launch the Ranch House, a full-service restaurant a few blocks further down Cerrillos (across from Kohl's on Cristos). Finally made it there last night. They were slammed, and the (sincere, hard working) service was a little harried and spastic, but the food was absolutely excellent.
This place is like a homegrown NM version of Houston's. Nice, Southwestern decor, emphasis on beautifully done, upscale manly food, but every facet of the menu has been crafted with a tremendous amount of care.
Nice array of well-conceived cocktails (nothing crazy, but fresh juices, some good infusions, and well chosen highish-end additions like St. Germain), good beer and adequate wine selections. Good bar space with plenty of seating and a few wall-mounted TVs for sports.
Excellent appetizers (most south of 10 bucks) like pulled pork sliders, crab cakes, green chile brisket quesadilla, a few different flatbreads.
Entrees span the $10s into the low-$20s. The highlight for me was still the BBQ, which was every bit as good as at Josh's, but even more enjoyable when eaten at a comfy booth with draft beer. The baby back ribs are still about perfect, incredibly tender (but properly not quite fall-off-the-bone, which I've always thought has been an incorrect yardstick), served with the out-of-this-world red chile honey BBQ sauce. Solid classic sides, plus phenomenal tater tots, perfect crunch outside and smoothness inside. The green chile coleslaw is as addictive as ever, low on mayo and high on flavor, and I tend to be a slaw hater.
Also good-looking burgers with local NM beef, and a short NM-style menu (enchiladas and the like). We were too full to order the house made desserts (all under $10), but they looked great from what we could see, chocolate mousse with toasted marshmallow, apple crisp, banana bread pudding, a few others.
The small, walled patio will be great on summer nights. And although the service will take a little time to work out the kinks at peak times like the Saturday night rush, they clearly have good processes in place and I'm confident it will gel in time.
This place has instantly jumped onto my short list of dinner destinations. Thrilled it's here, and thrilled that a guy like Josh, who is so committed to quality, seems to have his gamble paying off.
Finally made it out to the Ranch House over the weekend, and I have to second all of finlero's praise. The "homegrown NM version of Houston's" description is spot on, and the bar area is especially cozy. We opted for BBQ, and while I thought some of the sides were a slight step down from Josh's (the slaw seemed a little soupier than I remember and the tater tots were served lukewarm, plus I think I preferred the waffle fries at Josh's), I really can't say enough about the ribs.
They were running a special on spare ribs (as opposed to the baby back ribs on the menu), so we decided to share a full rack, and our eyes just about popped out when the plate hit the table - I have never seen such an enormous portion!!! If it wasn't for the fact that ribs make such good leftovers I might have been annoyed with our server for not suggesting that we stick with a half rack, since this could easily have fed four people.
None of which would matter if the ribs weren't good, so I'm happy to say they were great! Tender but still with a little chew, deeply flavorful, nice mix of meaty center cut ribs and crispy ends, not overly smoky but otherwise just wonderful, and nicely complemented by the house sauces (not to mention the Marble beer on tap).
We look forward to returning for dinner and making this place part of our rotation (unless the south Cerrillos location ends up being a deterrent). Definitely a nice and somewhat unique addition to the local dining scene.