Mystery Diner: Princeton restaurant offers full range of Mexican favorites

Every diner sure to find new go-to dish at Los Ranchitos

Since I’m never one to pass up Mexican food, Los Ranchitos of Princeton isn’t a new spot for me, but it is one worth sharing.

The quaint and quirky restaurant on Princeton’s West Peru Street has a large, but not intimidating menu, offering a full range of appetizers, salads, lunch and dinner specials, combos and signature entrees.

My gang eats here not infrequently, and though we’ve tried a lot of their menu options, we frequently gravitate back towards our favorites.

This time, we decided to stick with our go-to’s along with an appetizer and a couple desserts for carryout.

The food was ready exactly at the time quoted, and everything was hot and fresh when we arrived home with it.

Because every meal starts out with complimentary chips and salsa, we’d never ordered the bean dip before now. It was served in a surprisingly large portion, filling a pie pan-sized plate, and topped with queso. The refried beans were creamy and salty and a perfect complement to the fresh salsa, so we highly recommend it.

For entrees, we went with a deluxe chicken burrito, a ground beef chimichanga and the steak chilaquiles.

The burrito, smothered in queso, looks unassuming, though huge, and is deceptive in its appearance of simplicity. It’s stuffed with savory shredded chicken and perfectly seasoned and textured rice and beans, along with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. Don’t count on being able to eat this in one setting unless you have the largest of appetites.

The chimichanga, a fried meat burrito, doesn’t have the massive size of the standard burritos, but this crispy, lightly seasoned treat comes with fresh guacamole and sour cream for dipping along with chopped tomatoes and seasoned rice.

My favorite – and standard order – is the steak chilaquiles. Historically a breakfast dish, chilaquiles is the perfect combination of nachos and a deconstructed enchilada. It’s a bed of crispy corn tortilla chips topped with char-grilled steak or chicken along with peppers and onions, crowned with melted cheese and smothered in red sauce.

The sauce soaks into some of the chips, leaving the rest crispy to create the perfect mix of textures. It’s also served with a heap of guac, sour cream, pico de gallo and a side of seasoned rice.

We ended the meal with a couple desserts that I recommend saving room for. The sopapilla is a favorite; a fried flour tortilla nestled in honey, swirled with chocolate and strawberry sauce, is served as is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A perfect end to dinner, it’s a decadent yet light dessert nacho.

We also ordered the xangos (pronounced changos), a riff on a cheesecake egg roll. It comes drizzled with sundae sauces and topped with whipped cream. Due to the drive, the cream melted on ours, but I’m not even going to say I’m disappointed because the flavors and texture of the xangos themselves were still spot on.

For under $50, my crew and I stuffed ourselves and then went back for leftovers the next day. If you’re a fan of Mexican fare, Los Ranchitos needs to be part of your regular rotation.

• The Mystery Diner is an employee at Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff when ordering or picking up the food. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.


WHAT: Los Ranchitos of Princeton

WHERE: 1204 W. Peru St., Princeton

PHONE: 815-875-1200

INFORMATION: Facebook at