Rene Andrade long ago penned his ideal menu. He thought maybe, just maybe, he could present it to the public.
A year ago he had the opportunity through Ghost Ranch: Modern Southwest Cuisine.
“South Tempe has been embracing us,” Andrade says. “It’s been amazing.”
Ghost Ranch opened last August with a modern Southwestern cuisine, coupled with impressive margaritas, appetizers and cocktails. Bunch is offered on the weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and lunch Monday through Friday.
Andrade is a pedigreed chef. Born in Nogales, Andrade worked under former “Iron Chef America” contestant Beau MacMillan at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort’s Elements and calls him a “great person and an awesome boss.” Prior to that, he was trained by chefs Matt Carter and Gio Osso.
“I’ve been cooking since I was a little kid,” Andrade says. “I’ve been in a kitchen my whole life. I moved up here at 17 and started working for Matt Carter. After that, Elements and it went from there.
“What I bring here is a lot of techniques. Like you can see the shitake mushrooms in the chile relleno. That idea came from Elements. I love a mix of ingredients.
“I had great mentors and every single one is different,” Andrade says. “I could bring those techniques to Ghost Ranch.”
Ghost Ranch is owned by David Chamberlin, the brother of chef Aaron Chamberlin. Aaron , who also owns Taco Chelo and the Phoenix Public Market Café, recently sold the restaurant to David.
“When I presented the menu to Aaron, I told him I had it in my book for forever,” Andrade says. “I’ve been eating these dishes my whole life.”
Guests who want to try a little bit of Ghost Ranch’s offerings should try the sampler platter ($23)—grilled skirt steak, one pork enchilada, one chicken enchilada and cheese-filled chile relleno.
“In Mexico, we use skirt steak a lot,” he says. “They’re high-end cuts. They’re so tender and juicy. It’s unbelievable.
The menu is filled with dishes he grew up with, thanks to his cooking skills. The appetizers are creative. The chips, salsa and guacamole ($9) features Ghost Ranch’s hand-crushed guacamole. The shrimp ceviche ($15) has lime serrano chile aguachile, cilantro, avocado, orange, radish salad and a fire-roasted tortilla. The vegetarian, gluten-free pumpkin soup ($8) is created with caramelized squash, crispy masa and herbs.
Salads—orange and jicama; Caesar; and corn salad ($10, $11 and $12, respectively—are vegetarian. Taco platters ranging from braised pork with chimayo chile ($18) to mesquite-grilled swordfish ($23) is a standard on the menu. Enchiladas are creative dishes as well. The vegetable calabacitas squash puree ($16) is available with red or green sauce. Grilled chicken ($18) and chile Colorado braised pork with chimayo chile is gluten free like the grilled chicken and is $17.
Other menu items are Aztec cake ($16) with layered tortillas, pulled chicken, roasted green chile, sweet corn and a cheese blend; and the well-known chile chocolate cake with avocado, lime sauce, coconut gelato and cocoa nibs. It’s addictive—watch out—but it has a kick ($8).
“Our goal is to keep presenting high-end ingredients. In Mexico, we use it a lot. The high-end cuts are so tender and juicy. It’s unbelievable. We want to bring the heat a little higher, but still make sure it’s for the community. We like to put ourselves as community restaurants. We listen to guests a lot and we progress with them and chamber with them. We want to progress with the community and see what they like.”
Ghost Ranch, 1006 E. Warner Road, Suites 102-103, Tempe, 480.474.4328, ghostranchaz.com.