Rancho Relaxo Gets a Face-Lift

RR2It was a full house at Rancho Relaxo last night when the owners staged a grand re-opening party from five to eleven. The Mexican bar and gourmet cuisine restaurant has been in business since the late ’90s, opening its doors to curious Torontonians and amateur bands trying to make a name for themselves. It has also recently expanded its business to a gourmet food truck (don’t believe me? Their Twitter handle is @RanchoTrucks).

The restaurant has kept its location at 300 College Street, but many things have changed about the place. At Thursday’s bash, many noticed that Rancho Relaxo had traded its adobe and textile design for a more modern Mexican, look with vintage wrestling posters framed in wood.

According to Angela Blais, the owner’s granddaughter: “Well, we’ve gutted the place – completely stripped it out. We’ve updated the décor, updated the menu, it’s a lot more modern now.”

RR1This updated food includes a seared fish taco with chipotle mayo and a tempura shrimp wrap – as well as the old favourites like the classic margaritas. All of which I enjoyed while I was there.

“It’s fancier, it’s fine dining, and it’s a new experience,” adds Blais, “It suits Toronto as it is right now.”

Another reason Rancho Relaxo is on so many peoples’ radars is because of its live music scene. The downstairs holds a finer feel (complete with a Don Quixote statue by the door) while the upstairs is unmistakably a live music venue.

“We have a lot of punk shows and rock bands – a lot of people made their start here,” Blais says. “Billy Talent was one of them back in the day.”

Reactions towards the place ranged from optimism to skepticism. One man said that some restaurants that try to change their image end up losing people, but he wished well for this re-haul. However, the party showed a lot of excited attendants looking forward to drinks, food, and rock n’ roll.

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