They say the most important aspect of a restaurant is location, location, location. Sometimes, a location that needs a GPS to find, offers the best chow. I was perplexed and curious to find an out-of-the way prize that many told me had the best ribs this side of Memphis. Rancho Nipomo BBQ & Deli is located where Nipomo butts up to Santa Maria at highway 166, hard to find, but worth every twist and turn. (Go 101 south and get off at the 166 exit, turn right and it is 50 feet from the exit on the right). With “hoots and hollers” of triumph we entered the arable farm decorated deli and were warmly greeted by Richard, our host and food facilitator. He was amicable explaining in great detail each dish we queried, from the cooking process to the sauce preparation, just as they do in a five-star restaurant.
I ordered a slab of ribs that came with coleslaw, rice, beans and toasted garlic teleta bread. Gary started with a slice of Cherry Cheesecake with tres leche moist cake. Richard found this to be perplexing so he brought me a Fish Taco as my appetizer. The white Alaskan cod fillet was panko breaded and pan-fried to perfection. It was smattered in fresh cabbage, lemon, crème fresco, and house made guacamole and pico de gallo. Both pleasantly surprised and with mouths salivating, we anticipating the delights that were forthcoming.
The pork Ribs were huge, overhanging the plate and cooked to perfection, falling off the bone in a dry sauce that could match any in the South. I don’t think I breathed as I inhaled half a pig. I have to talk about the barbeque sauce. It is not your typical ketchup and brown sugar kind. It was sweet, hot, and dry. It has the consistency of thinned out molasses. Its aroma was a brown-sugary-smoky almost cumin-esque. When I tasted it, my taste buds went to heaven. The proprietor was not giving out any secrets, but I will continue to eat it until I wear him down or figure it out. There is a hint of brown sugar, some kind of roasted chili pepper, citrus, and honey. It is very original and will be haunting my dreams!
The coleslaw is made fresh every hour. They magically took tart cabbage, and made it sweet and desirable. Next, day we went back and ordered two Vaquero tacos. The Asada taco with tender charbroiled beef was oozing out of the two fresh corn tortillas. The Carnitas featured superior meat seasoned to delight. You helped yourself to the salsa bar to make this taco your own.
Richard saw that we were gluttons and possibly a gold mine for customers, so he brought us samples of the bean, rice, Beef Chile Colorado, and Chile Verde. The rice was moist, but not mushy and exploding with flavor, as was the beans. The Chili Colorado was soaking in a mole type sauce, but still tasted beautifully dry, it was absolute perfection.
Rancho Nipomo offers a unique selection of Hispanic cuisine and carefully smoked Southern style meats filled with unique flavors that celebrate our diverse culture. I have never seen such a flawless amalgamation of two different styles emerging for a culinary delight. As I wrote this review, I got hungry and talked Gary into driving back to Rancho Nipomo to try just one more dish.
Rancho Nipomo has burgers, salads, tri-tip, enchiladas, burritos, tortes and more. It is a family run operation with Mama cooking, Papa setting the tenor and waiting on the clients.
Located at 108 Cuyama Lane in Nipomo, call for directions at (805) 925-3500. They are open every day until 7:00 pm except Mondays