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El Rancho Inn
Steak & lobster house

Ray Lacondeguy has been the owner and operator of the El Rancho Inn Steak & Lobster House since 1986.

No surprise to those who frequent his restaurant that the secret of his success has always been “quality food, quality service, and quality customer service,” he said on a Thursday morning in October.

Lacondeguy was gearing for a busy day that included catering a party of 150 from the California Trucking Association – he indicated the CTA function is his lone catering job of the year – along with handling the folks coming in for lunch and dinner.

Located at 1457 E. Mariposa Rd., Lacondeguy purchased the business along parts of the old highway not too long after fire temporarily closed down the place.

El Rancho Inn was a stopover built in 1939 and survived fires that occurred in 1962 and 1984. “This was prime real estate,” he said of his south Stockton establishment.

What’s prime at El Rancho is the menu, which includes beef from the Midwest and lobster shipped in from Western Australia via San Francisco.

According to Angel Padilla, who has been the manager at the restaurant for the past 10 years, the flat steak (10-12 oz. cut marinated and grilled to perfection) is the go-to favorite among the regular lunch clientele consisting of nearby industrial workers, business people, and farmers. “It’s just enough (food),” she said.

Added Lacondeguy: “Our customers are the rich of the rich and the poor of the poor – they’re all regular people to us.”

On Wednesdays, his lunch menu features meat loaf served with mashed potatoes and brown gravy along with a choice of soup or salad.

“The meatloaf is Ray’s secret family recipe – he won’t share it with anyone,” Padilla said.

Chicken fried steak is the Thursday lunch special while the Friday menu features prawns served deep fried or scapi style along with a soup choice of clam chowder.

As for dinner, Padilla pointed out that the ribeye steak is a popular choice among customers along with the filet and New York steak (14-16 oz. cut).

El Rancho also offers up burgers – hamburger or cheeseburger, charred on the indoor charcoal grill – consisting of half-pound hand-pressed ground beef patty served on a toasted Genova bun.

And then there’s the succulent lobster tail, which, Padilla said, is “to die for.”

Greg Swanson can attest to that. He said via social media that Ray Lacondeguy’s El Rancho is simply the best steakhouse.

“You can sit down and savor the flavors and great cuts of beef. And his giant shrimp are killer as well not to mention the service, which is a cut above – always a very positive experience,” he said. 

1457 E. Mariposa Rd., Stockton, CA

Lunch, Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Dinner, Thursday, 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Friday & Saturday, 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.