BABY BACK RIBS and More at RANCHERO NUEVO GRILL AND SEAFOOD at SM CITY GENSAN

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SM City Gensan has been a total godsend to the people and city of General Santos. Ever since opening in 2012, it’s been a hub for all the great new things coming to town, where the hottest shops from the outside come to set up, and where some of the most delicious dining to be found anywhere, all in easy reach. The alfresco dining section of the mall has been waiting to get filled up by restaurants and coffee-shops since near on six years now, but what establishments have indeed opened up there are major draws for families and foodies of Gensan. Let’s go over one of the best there now, none other than Ranchero Nuevo Grill and Seafood Restaurant.

It’s location at SM City Gensan’s alfresco dining area is truly inspired. Just a brief walk either out the doors or around the mall façade at San Miguel Street, you’ll see it just off to the side of the alfresco stage, supremely decorated in the rancher’s style that its name implies, with tables even laid outside the doors for diners and drinkers who prefer being out in the bustle, with a clear view of the stage and whatever evening’s entertainment is in store. The interior is also remarkably neat, illuminated with soft lighting, and hews to the overall theme, something I give the decorators my compliments for. Seating arrangements are also praiseworthy with good elbow room, not cramped even if packed to capacity with customers.

But we’re not here to discuss only the looks and aesthetics of Ranchero Nuevo. It is a grill and seafood restaurant after all, so let’s shine the spotlight on what’s best to eat over there. The menu is a mix of American ranch, Mexican and even Filipino cuisine, all either cooked or ROASTED to delectable perfection. Should you happen to check out the Google reviews for Ranchero Nuevo at SM City Gensan, almost all the reviewers are in awe or one signature dish that any self-respecting grill restaurant should have: baby back ribs. I can guarantee that this is one of the best, if not the best roast pork you can pay for anywhere in the city. It doesn’t disappoint with the crispy brown cut ribs with their savory sauce and cut veggie garnish. Surely, the baby back ribs are Ranchero Nuevo’s best-selling offerings. But that’s hardly all they’ve got.

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They’ve got other choice cuts of pork to serve up here. On a more Filipino bent, Ranchero Nuevo has also got its own recipe for crispy pata or deep-fried pork leg. Served already chopped in easy serving pieces mixed with minced spices and a variety of dips, it’s another tempting dish for die-hard pork lovers, along with their crispy binagoongan. But before readers assume further about pro-pig bias, Ranchero Nuevo has even more than these to make your mouth water with. Switching over to beef, they serve some nicely-sauced lengua estofado (beef tongue) with mashed potatoes. Another Spanish-inspired hit is the callos de ranchero with beef tripe, which can be considered an alternative presentation of sorts for a beef dish that Generals are already so familiar with: balbacua.

I’d say that about covers the best of Ranchero Nuevo’s red meat delights, so it’s time to discuss the white. For something a bit more uncommon to local tastes, they serve sizzled chicken steak on a hotplate, with garlic among its primary flavor spices. And let’s not forget that Ranchero Nuevo also has “Seafood” in its name, with the prime example of their fish cooking being the bangus relleno (milkfish), a scrumptious meal if you can put up with cleaning the meat of the characteristic little bones. Finally, not even veggie lovers are forgotten by this amazing restaurant, which lists a wide variety of salads from various regional cuisines. Whether it’s western Casesar’s Salad or a tropical-themed summer vegetable salad, it’s up to you.

Thanks to SM City Gensan being located across the street from a major hotel their alfresco dining area and adjacent fountain court end up being full of people most nights, especially if some performers are scheduled on set at the stage. That’s usually when the dining establishments really fill their seats. Ranchero Nuevo is no exception, and they even have a detached open-air portion of their restaurant with tables and chairs in front of the stage for better viewing of shows. You’ve got to hand it to their staff to be so considerate, but that’s just one of the numerous reasons why the Ranchero Nuevo Grill and Seafood is already so well-loved, not just by the Generals but by travelers and tourists stopping by. Try out their “everything” for yourself at the ground floor outside, at the alfresco dining area of SM City Gensan.

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