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El Rancho Mexican Grill

The three taco plate at El Rancho Mexican Grill on South Park Street. Tacos come with flour tortillas or double corn ones and customers can choose from a host of fillings starting with carne asada, chorizo, carnitas, shredded beef, ground beef or chicken.

After nearly three years on Park Street, El Rancho Mexican Grill is getting a second location, this one on the East Side.

Jose Torres is putting his new location into the former home of Mr. Torta's, which operated at 4527 Cottage Grove Road, for almost two years under two different sets of owners, until it closed last month. He expects to open early next week.

The East Side El Rancho will have an identical menu to the Park Street location, but Torres is looking forward to having dedicated parking. Right now the lot next to his restaurant at 819 S. Park St., is reserved for Dunkin' Donuts and other neighboring businesses. 

"We will not have any issues with parking," said Torres, who lives in Fitchburg. "I want to give my guests what they deserve. We have a lot of people from Sun Prairie and from the East Side who come all the way to Park Street just for our food."

Torres, who has 30 years of restaurant experience, is from the Mexican state of Puebla. He came to Edgerton in 1989, and to Madison in 1997. He's worked in many restaurants, including 16 years at TGI Fridays.

At El Rancho customers order at the counter and get their food as fast as they would at a Subway store. 

Torres can usually be found cooking at El Rancho, making burritos, tacos, tortas, quesadillas and nachos with carne asada, chorizo, carnitas, al pastor, shredded beef, and chicken barbacoa. 

He is still looking for two employees for the new location. 

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Wisconsin State Journal food writer Samara Kalk Derby brings you the latest news on the Madison area's eclectic restaurant scene.