With a recent renovation, Tienda El Ranchito has grown from a small market to a full-service grocery with a butcher shop and produce section, home goods, clothing and a hopping restaurant offering both traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex specialties.
The kitchen’s take on caldo de res – a simple beef soup with large chunks of steak, potato and corn in a clear broth – brightens with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, so don’t be bashful. The soup is served with a side of steamed corn tortillas that can be used to make impromptu tacos or, better yet, torn into pieces and slowly added to the soup for an additional layer of flavor and texture as they soak up the broth. Huachinango a la diabla – a whole red snapper dusted with chiles and pan-fried – makes a great centerpiece dish for sharing with your dining guests. The tender fish easily flakes with a fork. Logistically the midsection contains the easiest cuts to get at, but pros will gladly pass up most of the fillet for a chance to devour the moist meat located behind the fish’s head – an area known as the collar – which, with a bit of effort, yields the most flavorful meat of the fish.
Tienda El Ranchito, 2565 N. 32nd St., East St. Louis, 618.875.1521