A grilled feast at El Rancho Restaurant, Concord

by foodhoe on July 1, 2010

1450 Monument Blvd, Concord, CA  94520 | 925.685.5582 | website

Exploring the stripmall wilderness out in Contra Costa can be a bit daunting because there are so many obscure restaurants that appear undistinguishable from the rest.  This restaurant in particular we almost missed because I drove into the parking lot and went the wrong way so we ended up driving around the entire parking lot which had very pronounced speed bumps every 10 feet or so.  That took some dogged persistence to make it all the way around I tell you!  As we entered the building, it became clear why so many speed bumps… it’s also a dance club/bar, and the management seems to have made an effort to keep things in line.  To one side of the entrance was a dim nook with plastic booths that resembled any fast food dining area.  There was a menu hanging on the wall in Spanish indicating that the restaurant specializes in seafood

A young woman came over with menus for us and we elected to go for the main dining room which was at the far end of what appeared to be a cavernous dance floor.  There were racks of overhead lighting and a stage along one side of the room and a full bar along the other side.  The booths all were wheeled, ostensibly so that they could be cleared away later in the night when the restaurant becomes a nightclub and bar.

The menu was a mixture of Spanish and English offering a variety of items like tostadas, fajitas, seafood soups and cocktails, but I decided to try one of the house specialties of grilled seafood.  Our waitress said it was very good and came with carne asada and a quesadilla.  She dropped off a bowl of salsa that had chopped up bits of shrimp and seafood in it and a basket of warm crunchy tortilla chps.

The salsa was a bit like a miniature seafood cocktail, full of the flavors of lime, fresh tomato, minced red onion and cilantro.  We gobbled it up.

She asked me if I wanted hot sauce, and gave us a small cup of an incendiary green sauce that was spicy enough to sear the hairs from my nostrils and the very eyebrows off my forehead.  Whew, very potent stuff!

Our meal arrived in a large metal tray on legs that was piled high with delicious looking grub. The Parrillada Kora, is an assortment of fresh seafood, grilled steak and one quesadilla, along with peppers and grilled onions ($34.99/serves four)  On top was the quesadilla, fresh off the griddle and full of melted oozy cheese.

Another view of the mountain of food.

Under the quesadilla we found slices of carne asada (grilled steak) on top of two filets of Tilapia, which concealed piles of grilled seafood.

There were big prawns with the shells and heads still attached, dungeness crab legs and claws, mussels, tender chunks of octopus.  It was a treasure trove of delicious seafood goodness.  Now I would say that the seafood was not fresh from the boat, but everything was very tender, cooked to order and finger licking good.

There were pieces of onion, yellow, green and red bell pepper all swimming in a delectable buttery sauce that had a touch of tomato and jalapeno mixed in.  We had to ask for a shellfish cracker for the crablegs, which were too hard to try to open by hand. We used the entire mound of napkins that were supplied as we ended up eating the crab and shrimps with our hands.  It was messy but so very, very good!

We received a container of tortillas that we didn’t even look at, as we were too mesmerized by the mountain of food, but it was good for the leftovers, which proved to be enough for my parents to enjoy for dinner the next night.  We were not served rice or beans either, which I’m sure we would have ignored like we did the tortillas…

In the lobby was a festive mural painted by the ubiquitous Ricardo, who has equipped almost every restaurant in the East Bay with vibrant scenes of happy days gone by in Mexico.  After that first visit, we are sure to come back soon…

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa July 1, 2010 at 9:47 am

Wow that is indeed a mountain of food! Fantastic!




Cookie July 1, 2010 at 12:23 pm

What a feast! That’s a LOT of food at a great price! That salsa looks so fresh and yummy!


Forager July 1, 2010 at 3:09 pm

What an obscene amount of food! 😉 I’m not surprised the leftovers fed everyone again and more!


Edmund Mokhtarian July 2, 2010 at 8:37 am

What a value! I’d gladly pay $35 for a dish that can feed 4+ people. Thanks for the heads up. I live in California, so I might end up at this restaurant some day.


Gastronomer July 2, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Holy cow?!?! I have never seen a mountain of seafood like that before! What a great find. Messy meals are awesome.


grace July 2, 2010 at 3:21 pm

good grief, that is one MASSIVE pile of edibles! the colors, the flavors–i’d be smitten.


Bonnibella July 5, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Whoa there! I’m would be in love with that mountain of food and such a bargain.


rowena July 5, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Holy mama, yowser, omg-that-dish-is-just-awesome post!!!! The question is…do I dare even try something like this at home? It seems the simplest thing to do. I think I’ll go on a fruit and veggie fast first…this meal requires elastic waistbands.


Single Guy Ben July 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Glad you were able to climb out from under that mountain of food to blog about it!


Juliana July 6, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Wow, mountain food…would love to dig in 🙂


mark July 7, 2010 at 11:40 am


Now I know where dinner is going to happen on my upcoming visit to concord.


stephen July 7, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Nice story, fun blog! great image of the mountain of food.


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