by Steven Doyle
Today marks the soft opening for Abel Gonzales’ new Republic Ranch located at 3121 Ross Avenue and will be open now from 11am to 2pm for lunches only. The menu was small but beefy enough to satisfy most anyone in your dining group, and the flavors were punchy enough to grab your attention.
Any story involving Gonzales requires a bit of history. Born into a restaurant family and son of AJ Gonzales which had his own namesake restaurant located in the West End for many years. Abel grew up to become an database analyst but came into his own once he began working his fried business at the State Fair of Texas. This is where the chef’s playful genius that has pleased millions of fair-goers over the years with ingenious offerings such as his famous fried butter, Coca Cola, and more recently the curious fried lobster which doesn’t seem like it would be of any interest when held next to a corny dog, but Gonzales sold a record breaking amount and virtually wiped one purveyor out of his lobster inventory leaving yet another scrambling for more.
Gonzales is not wanting the fried fair foods to define him and went out of his way to leave off what could be the perfect low hanging fruit for his opening menu. But the chef felt that the fried items in question were designed for that special three weeks in October where entire families would indulge in whatever he felt was the next hottest item to dip into his fry-o-lators. Instead look for a Mexican crossover where the plate touches on Tex-Mex and Tex-Tex. Smokey briskets layered into nachos or enchiladas, pulled pork tacos and brisket laden baked potatoes.
For now Republic Ranch will be serving lunches and open for bar service into the early evening, most likely 8pm. Soon Gonzales will introduce his dinner menu which he tells us will have big beef ribs, fried chicken and more. We have had an opportunity to sample this fried chicken and it is definitely a competitor.
Chicken Fried Ribeye
The building is massive in structure and is geared towards large events. The main dining room and bar is just the beginning and leads to yet another bar area that then takes you out into the courtyard which was previous the chic Salt surrounded by cabanas. All this is intact, but there will not be swimming allowed in the foreseeable future. Beyond the pool and picnic tables there is yet another building which Gonzales tells us will hold a massive amount of video games and such but could also be used for large events.
The music that fills the air are throwbacks from an era past that include Bob Wills and Hank Williams. Familiar music to accompany familiar tastes for the local palate.
We are looking for a restaurant success story. Gonzales will charm and enlighten his guests to his way of dining with his simple yet delicious fare, and that is exactly what we need.