Holy moly, I’ve finally done it. I’ve been to The Ranch. How is it that I’m a born and bred Hayward-ian and I’ve never been to The Ranch? If you’re a local you’ve surely seen and/or been to this place—the huge cow head on the sign (which, incidentally, I didn’t get a picture of) along Mission Boulevard at the corner of Jackson is hard to miss.
The Ranch has been around since 1948 and—prepare for history lesson—much of the random farm equipment and gold-rush-looking junk that adorns the walls was apparently donated by local farmers and ranchers of the day. This made me a good deal more excited to gaze at the seemingly-dangerous-in-an-earthquake decorations. This isn’t Applebee’s, folks, this is Hayward history.
Since I’ve never actually been inside this place, I really had no idea what to expect. I was honestly expecting the worst. To be fair, this is not my type of place. I don’t like “good ‘ole American” cookin’ as it’s fattening, bland, and generally bad for you. This is what I was expecting. And, really, it’s what I got. But, I can say that it was better than I thought.
Ok, I didn’t exactly have a steak dinner so I can’t comment on the quality or taste of most of their menu items. What I can say is this: the menu selection wasn’t bad, the zucchini sticks were homemade and delicious, and our server was excellent. Why does an attentive, intelligent, helpful younger man work at The Ranch in downtown Hayward? I have no idea, but he made our night better.
I had the scampi appetizer which was prawns in a wine/butter sauce. I thought it was just ok; the sauce was really heavy (as expected and forewarned) and I think I was more in the mood for shrimp cocktail instead (which was my bad). Boyfriend had a side salad which was standard from a diner: packaged iceberg lettuce, garbanzos, kidney beans and croutons.
We all also shared the fried zucchini and a basket of fries; it wasn’t exactly health food night in our household. The fries were the crinkly kind that come in frozen bags at the grocery store and were fine. The basket was pretty giant and was only $2, so that’s sort of exciting. The zucchini was home made and was perfect in consistency, the breading was very yummy, and the homemade ranch dressing had me breathing a sigh of relief (after all, a place called The Ranch simply cannot very well have bad ranch dressing).
Overall I had a good time since I was with good company, wasn’t expecting a lot, the food was decent and the service was great. I knew it wouldn’t be my favorite place, but I may indeed return someday when I get a hankerin’ for the best dang zucchini sticks around.