Authentic Tex-Mex cuisine is still quite a rarity on the Cairo restaurant scene, despite the many Tex-Mex franchises like Chilli’s and On the Border. While hunting for a new undiscovered Tex-Mex restaurant, this reviewer ended up in the Sofitel in Maadi, home to El Rancho.

El Rancho’s interior looks like a bad imitation of the Mask of Zorro set with sombreros and guns serving as wall decorations. Other decorative items include a bag of money (empty FYI), pictures of Indians and cactuses. Next to the bar is an open kitchen, which we always find comforting.

The menu is more international than Tex-Mex with dishes such as chicken Caesar salad (35LE), Greek salad (29LE) and mushroom soup (15LE). We started off with the guacamole con tortillas (49LE) and were immediately disappointed. The guacamole had a molokheya texture and was pretty slimy, while the accompanying tortillas were as thick as bricks and difficult to bite through. Overall, it wasn’t the ideal combination in our opinion. The guacamole was also overly spicy, probably due to the Cayenne pepper on top.

For our mains, we opted for the platos de los campesinos (120LE): sirloin beef with fried egg, red beans and rice with vegetables. We also took the beef and chicken fajitas (105LE). The sirloin steak was cooked medium as we had requested it but the meat was a bit tough, difficult to cut and even more difficult to chew on. The fried egg was the same style that you get on your regular egg burger at a shawerma joint. The best part was the rice and beans. The beans actually turned out to be chilli con carne, which was delicious, spicy and full of sauce and minced meat. Combined with the rice with green beans and corn, we loved the side dish more than the main dish itself.

The fajitas came in a generous portion, although we got more chicken than beef, and were presented with guacamole, sour cream and cheese. The beef and chicken were both nicely grilled and seasoned, and were presented with vegetables. The only downside was once again the guacamole, which fortunately blended in with the meat and the sour cream; so it wasn’t as awful this time.

For drinks, we were dying to try the margherita (80LE), which consisted of lemon ice cream with tequila. Unfortunately, the tequila had run out. Instead, we ordered a brownie for dessert (40LE). The brownie was rather tasteless and we still don’t really understand what the accompanying sauce was. Was it whipped cream gone bad or vanilla sauce? it will probably remain a mystery to us. Also, 40LE for a pretty small piece of brownie is very expensive.

The service is friendly but the place itself lacks atmosphere due to its location in the hotel’s hallway, and quite the boring hallway too for that matter. However, if you’re in Maadi and absolutely dying for some Tex-Mex, than El Rancho is one of your few options.