Mis Main Eats: Ranch Wagon


Cutler Sienko, Reporter

Located on Route 309 in Dallas, Ranch Wagon is an unassuming place, one you might drive by many times before giving it a try. I can confess to having had this mindset, but once I decided to give this place a shot, I discovered it was absolutely worth my time and money.

Ranch Wagon presents the typical fare of a roadside stand, like hot dogs, burgers, and fried finger food, while putting its own spin on a certain piece of traditional American cuisine. It isn’t similar to the other places reviewed in this column, those more formal sit-down style establishments.

Ranch Wagon is a little takeout place that might remind you of your favorite seasonal ice cream stand that doesn’t stay open long enough each year. Unlike those stands, however, this place is open year-round, its focus on savory, rather than sweet.

The signature item at Ranch Wagon is the “Long Dog”, a take on the classic hot dog. You have typical choices, like ketchup and mustard or a chili dog, for example, but the Long Dog is not the typical hot do. What we received was a long, skinny hot dog (estimating by eye, almost an entire foot long). While many of the toppings are familiar, this different shape is certainly a unique signature that sets Long Dogs apart from the rest.

If you aren’t in the mood for a Long Dog, there are a lot of fried sidesm as well as sandwiches for you to choose. The highlight for us was the Puffins. They were explained to us as being little lumps of bread stuffing that are battered and deep-fried. It sounds unconventional, but to our delight, it was a winning combination. The stuffing remains soft, while the batter gives each piece a nice crispy outside, resulting in a satisfying bite every time.

On one of our visits, we also tried the deep-fried pierogies and onion rings. These were very good on their own, but no fried side is complete without a good burger or a sandwich. The chicken breast sandwich consists of your choice of grilled or fried chicken with lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise. These are the classic toppings for a chicken sandwich and this particular sandwich is a great example of the category.

Aside from the Long Dogs and Puffins, much of what we ate struck us as traditional roadside food.

The Puffins were a unique idea, and the Long Dog puts a twist on a classic, but most of what find at Ranch Wagon is the kind of food you’d expect to find at a roadside stop like this one. This doesn’t devalue the Ranch Wagon experience at all; in fact, it enhances it.

Sometimes, you might not be in the mood for exploring new tastes or trying a trendy new place in the city. Sometimes, you might want to enjoy something you’ve had many times before, because you know you really enjoy it. That is why the reason Ranch Wagon exists; whether you’re searching for a good piece of comfort food, stopping to rest during a long road trip, or looking for something that won’t break the bank (Sandwiches cost anywhere from $5.50 to $7 and are very substantial), Ranch Wagon is a great choice.