On the opposite corner from in Castro Valley's, lies .
It's tucked in a small retail strip that contains an eclectic mix of interesting purveyors, including a gun store, beauty salon and Chinese Restaurant, but I digress.
El Rancho has become my go-to for superlative meats, pretty-darn-good produce, and specialty ethnic food staples such as freshly prepared masa. And while I do the majority of my produce shopping at our local farmers markets, El Rancho fills in the blanks succinctly when necessary.
Let me start off by extolling the virtues of the full service meat department at El Rancho. The freshness and overall quality of their seafood and meat cannot be rivaled by any other retail venue in Castro Valley. Their turn over is quite high, and therefore dazzlingly fresh, unlike Trader Joe's that only brings in prepackaged meats *shiver*.
El Rancho does it old school by cutting daily and even to custom order. It is the closest thing to an authentic, old-time butcher shop that we have in town. Yes, is o.k., but I certainly do not love their meat quality all or even most of the time.
My husband is a old school butcher and meat shop manager with 20+ years under his belt, and he couldn't agree with me more. Furthermore, if you're looking for something out of the ordinary such as tripe, tongue, oxtail, shank, pig feet, free range chicken, or other esoteric bits, then go to El Rancho.
What's more is that the shop is meticulously clean, and I mean sparkling. As I'm sure you know, where meat is concerned, cleanliness is next to godliness. So what about pricing, you say? It's excellent for the quality, and therefore a value.
The produce department doesn't disappoint either. Buxom avocados at the perfect ripeness index for considerably less than you will spend at any of our chain or big box stores.
Nopales, sugar cane, floral mangoes, Honey Crisp apples and on, and on. I left with several bags worth of pristine, delicious produce for a fraction of what I might have spent elsewhere. Enough with the proselytizing.
Please don't take my word for it. Go check it out for yourself, and hopefully you too will find it in your best interest to support this family owned independant striving to thrive in Castro Valley.