Burger Month 2021: Rancho’s Bulalo Burger

One of the reasons why I decided to revitalize Burger Month this year was to basically help restaurants who had a very crappy time last year and, let’s face it, a terrible start to 2021. It’s still very difficult to run a place like a restaurant in these trying times so I decided to help out in my very own tiny way by actually supporting these locations by actually going to them whenever possible. Whether it be a big burger joint or the smaller, lesser known eateries, we all know these establishments need our support especially now. Even large chains need our help because, whether you like them or not, they still employ a lot of people and helping the large chains allows the little people to keep their jobs in these trying times.

Of course, there’s still the other matter of the smaller, lesser known food stalls you know and love. And they’re probably the ones that may need the most assistance. So, with the second week of Burger Month of 2021, I decided to do just that. There’s this little place called Rancho’s just walking distance from my place and, sadly, I’ve never really eaten there. But, in the spirit of things, I decided to go visit it because, well, while it may not exactly be its specialty, they do serve burgers according to the sign. So, I decided to give it a shot and try whatever burger they have.

Top notch design for a small eatery, wouldn’t you say?

Like I said, Rancho’s isn’t a burger joint. Rather, the place mostly specializes in sizzling plate meals and bulalo, among other things. They do serve much more than that, such as pizzas, chicken and even ribeye steaks but the impression I got was sizzling plate meals and bulalo were their signature dishes. I guess even Western audiences know what a “sizzling plate” is but, just in case, the simplest explanation for it would be it’s a cast iron hot plate heated up to extreme temperatures and then the food is served on in, leading to the satisfying sizzling sound when the dish gets to the table.

However, I do have to give a much deeper explanation on what “bulalo” is because it’s a Filipino dish so Westerners aren’t that familiar with it. Bulalo, in its essence, is kind of like a Filipino beef stew. Beef shanks as well as the bones are boiled in a liquid for a long time, allowing the meat to soften as well as the marrow melt into the broth somewhat. This leaves a very succulent piece of meat and tasty broth. Keep this in mind as it is kind of important later on.

I do have to comment on the actual restaurant area as Rancho’s, despite it being a single location (that’s the only branch I could find online), the place is pretty stylish and quaint. Everything seemed clean and the people were attentive. Then again, I was the only customer there. All-in-all, my first impressions were really good.

The tables even have little plants! How quaint!

Now I did have to order and, well, as this wasn’t a dedicated burger place, there were only three kinds of burgers to choose from. However, two of them really did pique my interest. Rancho’s, of course, had your traditional beef patty burger. But they also had a lamb burger, which was really interesting as I’ve never really had a lamb burger before! I was going to order that but I also noticed they had something called a Bulalo Burger. Now, that’s something totally different and something I don’t think I can get anywhere else! Also considering Rancho’s seems to be promoting their bulalo prominently (they even have a bulalo pizza!), well, I just had to try their Bulalo Burger, didn’t I? I order it with cheese (because why not?) as well as a side of fries.

I did get my order fairly quickly which is good but, then again, I was the only customer there, remember? I kind of expected to get my order pretty promptly. Anyway, the Bulalo Burger is, well, I can’t really call it a “burger” in the classic sense. Rancho’s Bulalo Burger’s meat filling isn’t a “meat patty” but rather bulalo meat cut into strips and served with lettuce, onions and, because I asked for it, cheese sauce and all of it is served in a hamburger bun. Technically, it’s more like a “bulalo sandwich” because it’s not ground meat in patty form. I didn’t really know what I was going to get but, in hindsight, I should have expected it.

A part of me kind of wishes I didn’t order the Bulalo Burger with cheese on it. Not because I don’t like cheese and, in fact, I do have to commend Rancho’s for not scrimping on it. Rather, the amount of cheese they did put on the Bulalo Burger I got did not allow me to get a clear view of the “burger” itself! I really wanted to check out the meat and if it did have bone marrow in it. I mean, a central component of bulalo is the bone marrow, after all!

Can’t… see… meat. Too much… cheese…

Now, here’s the really good news about Rancho’s Bulalo Burger: it’s really good. I mean it’s really, really good! While it’s technically not a burger, it’s still extremely tasty! The meat strips may not have any structure, which did lead to some of them falling into the basket it was served in but they definitely were savory and just filled with great beef flavor. I sadly couldn’t tell if there was some bone marrow mixed in there that helped with it tasting so succulent but, honestly, for how good it was, I didn’t really care. The cheese, while it may seem like a lot, did work to the Bulalo Burger’s favor as the meat and cheese worked so well together. In fact, I did finish the Bulalo Burger pretty quickly and, in all honesty, I really wanted to order another one! As I’m writing this, I kind of wish I did order one to go just so I could eat it at a later time!

While I can’t really say anything bad about Rancho’s Bulalo Burger (besides it not meeting the classic definition of what a burger is), I do have some nitpicks with the fries. They weren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. They were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, which is how really good fries are supposed to be. However, they just weren’t anything special. They were rather plain fries and really just tasted salty. I would definitely get a side of fries again when I do go back and try another burger at Rancho’s but I just wish they were just a little more special.

And, yes, I will eventually be going back to Rancho’s at a later time. I was definitely impressed by the Bulalo Burger and that really made me want to try their other offerings soon. This does goes to prove that even the little known restaurant in your area you may have been ignoring deserves your patronage.

Know any other “burgers” you’ve eaten that aren’t really burgers? Let me know what they are in the comments section below!

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