Posts Tagged ‘Mexican food’

“Coto Voice – Food Finds” – April Issue 2011

Casa Ranchero – Mexican Cantina ~ Ladera Ranch, CA



Bravo!  Bravo! Lonnie and Claire Shepard have done it again!  Not only do they own the wonderful restaurant, Infusion, but they scored with a property across the parking lot and created a new Mexican cantina called Casa Ranchero (in the Mercantile West shopping center at Crown Valley Parkway and Antonio Parkway, in Ladera Ranch).  Lonnie and Claire, husband and wife, are a great restaurant team. Lonnie has perfected his talents as a chef over the past 25 years.  He has cooked for Chateclair in Irvine, the Pacific Club in Newport Beach and he was the opening executive chef for Dove Canyon Country Club as well as the Dana Point Yacht Club.  Currently, Lonnie is the executive chef of Infusion.  Combining his chef skills with Claire’s business mind, they decided to challenge themselves with their new Mexican cantina venture, Casa Ranchero.


The Look, Tone and Feel

The interior and exterior of Casa Ranchero is really fun.  The creativity of the interior makes you feel like you’re in a Mexican casita.  The patio is great!  There are comfortable couches, a big bon fire, outdoor bar (with a TV), and plenty of heat lamps.  It’s great ambiance to hang out, sipping one of their signature margaritas and munching on homemade chips and salsa.  Once the weather becomes warmer, I can see Casa Ranchero becoming a great hang out this summer! 

Our Experience

At the end of a long day, Ken, Andrew, Cindy and I relaxed outside on the patio.  Casey, our very polite, informative and awesome waiter, took great care of us, offering us first and foremost, Mexican blankets for our laps (with our cold winter, this was a nice touch).


After taking our drink order of Mexican beer and margaritas, we ordered four typical Mexican meals.  Ken had the Casa Ranchero Carnitas – crispy shredded carnitas with cilantro, onions, avocado and fresh lime ($13.95).  Andrew had the Carne Asada – charbroiled marinated skirt steak with green onions, sour cream, and guacamole, choice of fresh flour or corn tortillas ($13.95).  Cindy had the Chimichanga – a crispy burrito filled with chicken or beef, topped with tomatoes, ranchero sauce, melted cheese, sour cream and guacamole ($12.95).  Casey talked me into the Suizas Chicken and Cheese – chicken and manchego cheese enchiladas with tomatillo sauce ($10.95).   Chef’s Note:  Queso Manchego is a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheep of the Manchega breed.  Que bueno!   All in all, this was good food with reasonable prices in well-designed setting.

Weekly Events

Happy Hour:  3-6pm, M-F, (bar and patio only).

Taco Tuesdays:  3-closing, (bar and patio only; DJ E&J Ent).

Wednesdays:  Ninos Eat Free!  AND Wacky Wednesdays, 6-11, (cantina & patio only).

Easter Event – April 24th

Try Casa Ranchero’s Easter Brunch this year from 10-2pm.

Contact Information

Book your reservations online at

And friend them on Facebook to find out all their upcoming events.

25606 Crown Valley Parkway, Ladera Ranch, 92694


Blog Your Comments and Future Restaurant Review Suggestions @

Food Finds

Carmelita’s, Rancho Santa Margarita – January, 2010

Carmelita’s – Tequila, Cocina y Mexico.  Carmelita’s Restaurant has been serving authentic, Mexican cuisine in the Sacramento area since 1962 and are now open in Rancho Santa Margarita in a beautiful patio setting overlooking the lake.  Their menu features old family recipes from the Heredia family that come primarily from the state of Puebla, Mexico.  Carmelita’s claims that “Food isn’t just a meal.  It’s an experience.  It’s a chance to break bread with people you may not even know.”  The restaurant continues all the family tradition and is now owned by their son, Clemente Heredia —  and don’t be surprised to find Clemente greeting you at the door!

Cindy, Andrew, Ken and I began our date night playing Mexican music in the car, gearing ourselves up for a Mexican cuisine adventure!  We were greeted by Clemente, and were invited into a truly artistic, colorful and tasteful world of Mexico.  Being an artist and designer, I was drawn to the décor right away – warm wall color, great tile designs, beautiful oversized painting of the agave plant (which I learned is where tequila comes from), another colorful and beautiful, oversized painting depicting life in Mexico and a great bar, defined by it’s unique iron designs.  The patio furniture is very cool, and the setting, overlooking the lake, is soothing and relaxing.

Clemene took such good care of us and our waiter, John, was as warm and friendly (someone who truly loved his job – how refreshing!).  We started out with their house margarita – “Carmelita’s Top Shelf “ — made with three ingredients:  100% agave tequila (they make their own tequila!), hand-squeezed lime juice, and agave nectar – we were warned they were strong.  Well, they were strong and made me feel good, just like my husband (did I just say that?  It must be the tequila talking! Ooo la la!).  For every guest, they serve warm black beans and salsa with chips – nice and different and so good!  Next, we ask Clemente to surprise us with his most well known menu items.  We were brought four of thee most flavorful, and enjoyable dishes:

1) Enchiladas De Camaron – green tomatillo enchiladas filled with shrimp, sautéed with salsa fresca, served with freshly sliced avocado and sour cream (I’m salivating just writing about it);

2) Chili Rellenos (which I never have had and was pleasantly surprised!) – they were stuffed poblano chiles served with salsa and tortillas;

3)  Carnitas – their most popular dish.  Crispy and juicy pork, slow roasted to perfection.  The dish included sides of chile de arbol salsa, salsa fresca, lime, guacamole and tortillas (OMG!  Heaven!)

4)  Espada – Swordfish Tacos served with an amazing sauce (my signature order, and I must say I would order it again and again.  Next time I might try their shrimp or lobster taco).

For dessert, we had warm, petite Churros with Mexican carmel (cajeta), served warm with vanilla ice cream (muy, muy bueno!).  It was as warm and comforting as the service and environment.

It is so nice to report that EVERYTHING was sooo enjoyable, tasteful, and, as my husband wants you to know, “the food was truly GREAT!”.  In today’s society, both food and service can be a lost art and Clemente provides the perfect balance of both.  Speaking for all of us, we look forward to coming back to Carmelita’s!  We hope to see you there!

Christie Lynch & Cindy Shapiro