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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dear Seattlest, Are You Fucking Kidding Me?

posted by on April 24 at 12:46 PM

Dan on Seattlest threw up a post yesterday, giving a big sloppy blowjob to the Rancho Bravo taco truck—AKA Rancho Barfo—on 2nd and 45th in Wallingford.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the truck’s health code issues on Slog, which sparked a debate about the quality of their food and why I hate independent businesses so much.

Well, dear readers, I can tell you that their food is—despite Dan’s claims—not very good. And it certainly doesn’t deserve praise like this:

Wallingford, by the way, is in no way deserving of this taco truck. If the neighborhood was that blond preppy jerk from the 80’s with the popped collar, daddy’s connections and mad tennis/golf/karate skills, then Rancho Bravo would be its Elizabeth Shue. It just doesn’t fit. Someday some geeky neighborhood with a big heart is going to come along with its cast of dedicated misfit friends and steal it away. Until then it’s in the Winchell’s parking lot near Dicks.

In the interests of fairness—although this is Slog, and we’re not necessarily known for that—after I wrote about Rancho Bravo, the owner emailed me. Here’s the letter with a bit of editing for length/clarity.

Hey Jonah, I’m the owner of Rancho Bravo Tacos. It’s a bit late but I just read the piece you posted on March 31st. I tried to post a comment on the page you posted but it looks like comments are closed now. I just wanted to let you know that I agree that our quality had been declining. This mostly stemmed from not utilizing our limited space efficiently, this was causing a lot of storage problems which included blocking access to the hand sink, although there has always been access to the main three compartment sink. This was also the main issue with the health department. It was a great wake-up call and we have revamped EVERYTHING inside and out. You can definitely taste the difference now that we’ve got everything in order.


Freddy, I’m sure you’ve done your best to improve the health conditions at your place, but I can’t imagine fixing your sink has done much to improve the quality of the food.

The Al Pastor that Seattlest raves about has, on several occasions, been dry and overcooked or strangely mealy. The last burrito I ordered had cold things inside which should have been hot, and hot things that should have been cold. I don’t think I’ll be back.

I don’t mean to pick on Rancho Bravo, and I know it isn’t the only truck in town with issues—there’s at least one truck I can think of that’s been displaying an expired food license for about 6 months now—but c’mon. If you venture outside of Wallingford, there are like 8 zillion better taco trucks out there.


By some strange coincidence, the Seattlest post preceding the Rancho Bravo write-up sings the praises of Cafe Stellina. I’ve never been there, but I know some folks at our paper had less than favorable things to say about it.


Yes, commenters. I am a stupid fucker, and I don’t know what good food tastes like. Carry on.

RSS icon Comments


Best burritos in the city are still at Gorditos.

Posted by bma | April 24, 2008 12:50 PM

Screw you man! We love our cubes of meat on a tortilla! Especially at 3 in the morning.

Posted by Cale | April 24, 2008 12:53 PM

Um...the post about Stellina is about how they're never open and their hours keep changing and how the poster has tried a few times to give them a shot (or maybe a 2nd chance after a bad experience?) and went to the almost always open and delicious Cafe Presse instead.

I don't have an opinion on the taco truck, but if you're going to slam Seattlest for their tastes, read the entries. or even the heading ("bane" implies it's not going to be a positive review)

Posted by genevieve | April 24, 2008 12:53 PM

All right. Stay right there while I go get a burrito and report back.

Posted by elenchos | April 24, 2008 12:57 PM

all this does is make me hungry. there's a truck at 145th and roosevelt. i'm on my way.

Posted by superyeadon | April 24, 2008 1:00 PM

@3- right, but the point of the post is that they're annoyed that they can't go there.

Posted by Jonah S | April 24, 2008 1:01 PM

Hey man, making good tacos al pastor is a very precise art. You have every right to be picky. Personally, my favorite place to get them is the little hole-in-the-wall joint next to the Key Bank on 45th.

Posted by Hernandez | April 24, 2008 1:05 PM
8 fucking neurotic and obsessive are you? so you dont like the taco truck. who cares? you are so fucking easy to wind up.
are you expecting a super slow 1980's inspirational movie single clap that grows into an audience of applause from the owner emailing you back? doesnt that just prove that he's actually cool enough to admit that he cares about his quality of food to take criticism like a champ, which is WAY more than can be said about you?

ps. hands down the best tamales in town.

pps. if your pansy-ass stomach cant take mexican food then stick to dennys.

Posted by jo jo the monkey | April 24, 2008 1:07 PM

@6 - again, because he wanted to give it a fair shot, as @3 said. As you said, fairness isn't your strong suit on Slog.

Posted by tomcat98109 | April 24, 2008 1:07 PM

Jonah, please name better taco trucks...preferably close to Cap Hill.

That is all.

PS. I love the RB, but I am open to tastier, closer things.... =)

Posted by Original Monique | April 24, 2008 1:09 PM

Agreed, it's not the worst in Seattle, but not far from it.

Me and the misses split one of every meat taco a short while back and only two of their meat selections rose to the level of average.

Posted by righton | April 24, 2008 1:12 PM

There's also a post up there about how the food at The Saint is no good. Which is absolutely true, so maybe Seattlest knows what it's talking about (the taco truck is good, not great, but well above average).

Posted by levide | April 24, 2008 1:15 PM

You are a stupid fucker.

Posted by Mr. Poe | April 24, 2008 1:16 PM

God dude. You are such a fucking douchebag.

Mr. Big Slogger attacking the little taco truck after they made a graceful response to your venomous post.

Have you gone back to eat there since they reopened?

Posted by Dawgson | April 24, 2008 1:17 PM

Hey...oh never mind--you covered it in the "PSS" (which should be PPS).

Posted by Wallingford Lurker | April 24, 2008 1:18 PM

I tried this a few days ago and honestly, Taco Time is a better bet for decent tasting food. (And that is not saying much) The buritto I got was cold and tasteless.

Posted by Andrew | April 24, 2008 1:18 PM

I'm curious how all these people are making "Al Pastor" tacos without the big spit of meat. If they don't have the big thing that looks like a Gyros spit, it's not Al Pastor.

Posted by Fnarf | April 24, 2008 1:20 PM

@ 10—

I'd check out Tacos El Asadero at 3517 Rainier. I'm not sure where you are on the hill, but it's 3.5 miles from our office, versus 4ish for Rancho Bravo.

Also check out the Los Taco Trucks blog for more suggestions.

Posted by Jonah S | April 24, 2008 1:20 PM

author= more proof that kids w/ hyphenated names are douches
fnarf= more proof that white hipsters love to posture about 'authenticity'

what a self-masturbatory trainwreck

Posted by jao | April 24, 2008 1:33 PM



1. Not having or showing good taste.

2. Insipid.

Posted by DOUG. | April 24, 2008 1:43 PM

@19: Please come to the slog party so I can buy you a beer. That is the funniest thing I have read all day.

Posted by Original Monique | April 24, 2008 1:44 PM

Elizabeth Shue? wtf?

Posted by blank12357 | April 24, 2008 1:47 PM

Dear Slog, no I'm not fucking kidding you; those tacos are really good.

The setting is a little grimy. It is a parking lot, after all. However, I don't care if they make them in that truck, in some lab at the Hutch or in a Port-a-potty. They're that good.

Posted by Dan | April 24, 2008 1:49 PM

So I rode over there and I'm not going to ask how the fuck you're supposed to know if a bicyclist sitting on the line between the turn only lane and the straight only lane is going to turn or go straight when the light turns green because I'm actually not sure if I'm more stressed out by the 77 year old man (wearing that one hat) weaving side to side through traffic or the 88 year old woman alternately stopping a half block from the light and then careening toward the intersection.

Best advice is to be satisfied with whatever you can walk to and avoid dealing with traffic.

So the veggie burrito at Rancho Bravo was OK. Had some chewy tough bits of green pepper that probably should have been cut away. Wasn't too hot or cold in the wrong places. If I had pressing business on that block I might eat there again but I don't think I'd make a special trip.

Posted by elenchos | April 24, 2008 1:53 PM

Now that I've re-read THIS is my favorite part of the post:

By some strange coincidence, the Seattlest post preceding the Rancho Bravo write-up sings the praises of Cafe Stellina. I’ve never been there, but I know some folks at our paper had less than favorable things to say about it.
Isn't that how he reviewed Rancho Bravo in that second post? based on the opinions of others?
Posted by Dawgson | April 24, 2008 1:57 PM

@ Dan,

which other taco trucks have you been to?

Posted by Jonah S | April 24, 2008 2:01 PM

Elenchos@24: Thanks for an actual review.

The thing I enjoy there is the carnitas burrito with the spiciest hot sauce which tastes to me like kimchee. I've had other things there that were good, but that particular combo is great.

I have been meaning to try their tamales but they never seem to have any when I stop in.

Posted by Dawgson | April 24, 2008 2:03 PM
The Al Pastor that Seattlest raves about has, on several occasions...
The last burrito I ordered...
Jonah, if Rancho Bravo is so awful, why have you gone so many times (to a place 4 miles away from The Stranger's office)?
I don’t mean to pick on Rancho Bravo...
You have a word/action disagreement problem here.
Posted by lost | April 24, 2008 2:22 PM

Tacos El Asadero just raised their prices (maybe due to WORLD STARVATION RATIONING OH NOESS!!!111) 4.50 for burritos and tacos are now 1.20 each. Just ate a burrito for lunch, they are a bit smaller but every bite is just as good. Support your local taco trucks!

Posted by bobcat | April 24, 2008 2:22 PM

how sad is it seattle has to rely on taco truck to get mexican food. can't wait to be back in SF where mexican food is treated with respect.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | April 24, 2008 2:47 PM

translation of jonah's post, for those of you on drugs:


Posted by JB | April 24, 2008 2:50 PM

Taquiera El Sabor on Aurora is the best till you get to LA. Sorry fools. You all lose.

Posted by There can be only one | April 24, 2008 2:51 PM

I'll say it again, it's not the best truck, but it'll get the job done. There is no way that Taco Time is better. I really don't understand why Jonah is so up in arms about this place. That being said, it's also pretty clear that I'll never taking food advice from him based on his opinion here.

I find the chicken and pork Tortas at Rancho Bravo to be tasty and a particularly good value. The Tamales are also good. I've also enjoyed the chicken, al pastor, and carne asada tacos.

The burritos do often have a loose wrap, which makes them hard to handle. They aren't the best burritos in town, that's for sure. But for the price, they are a good value. I seem to remember enjoying the Al Pastor. I know, they're supposed to have a Gyros spit, but who actually has one of those in Seattle. I've never seen one.

My friend who is from the Texas/Mexico border like this place. She was particularly excited about that Chorizo was a meat choice.

The truck on Rainier between the old Chubby and Tubby and the Safeway is better than Rancho Bravo.

The truck on Aurora and 150th or so across the street from the Taco Bell (in the parking lot with the Korean place) is also better. The Carnitas there is particularly excellent.

The truck in Renton (on Rainier/Renton Ave), in the parking lot of that Produce place (not far from Fred Meyer), was disappointing (Indian place in the Fredy Meyer parking lot, on the other hand, is good).

El Delicioso inside the ABC Market on Beacon in Beacon Hill is also good and a great value. They have both Mexican and El Salvadorian stuff.

Anyone eaten at the Truck in the B of A parking lot in Columbia City?

How about the one on Northgate, just west of I-5?

Or the one in Ballard?

Posted by j-lon | April 24, 2008 2:57 PM

@28-because I like taco trucks and wanted to give that one a try. 3ish times is generally what it takes to try the burritos, tacos and what other menu item to evaluate. Also, I don't live on Capitol Hill.

33-The one in Northgate is excellent (but don't order the chicken, it's blah). The one in Ballard (I assume you're referring to the one that was near the Ballard Bridge) is not. Although I haven't seen it over there in awhile, so it might have moved.

Posted by Jonah S | April 24, 2008 3:04 PM

You can get chorizo all over town now. Every Tacos Guaymas has chorizo, lengue, and cabeza (mmm).

The truck by Northgate has the best carnitas I've ever had except for John E's.

Posted by Fnarf | April 24, 2008 3:45 PM

@33: How about the one on Northgate, just west of I-5?

I live just across the freeway from the northgate taco La Pasadita truck. It is awesome. Easy best in the northend behind Taco Open on 145th and the Taco Bus on 150th and Aurora. $4 burritos, tortas etc and i haven't had a bad meal yet. Go get a corona from the gas station while you food is being made.

my yelp:

Posted by bobcat | April 24, 2008 3:48 PM

Jonah @34, thanks for the reply.  If you've been to Rancho Bravo 3-ish times, though, I'd contend that "on several occasions" exaggerates your case against the al pastor, even if you ordered it every time.  (In which case why not just write "every time I had it"?)

You also fail to address why you so persistently single out RB for trashing in the Slog.  If you really feel that strongly about it, write a review for the Chow section.  The current approach comes off as petty and whiney, detracting from the good reputation you've been building with your reporting.

Posted by lostboy | April 24, 2008 3:52 PM

Funny how getting shut down by the health department can make you the place everybody is talking about.

Posted by elenchos | April 24, 2008 3:57 PM

Rancho "Barfo"? HY-LARIOUS!

That defenseless little taco truck -- you showed them, JS-L! What's even better is that truck is someone's livelihood and you publicly kicked the whole operation right in the nuts just because you could! Even after they sent you a nice, contrite e-mail after your first attack. Awesome!

Do they hand out Pulitzers for wielding the power of the press for such noble ends? They should!

Posted by apparently @19 was right | April 25, 2008 12:16 AM

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