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OPINION: Mi Rancho Meat Market is the best taco spot for Bellingham students

Fresh, delicious tacos that only cost $1.50

Two birria tacos pictured in front of two adobada tacos with a cup of consomme (broth)  with a plate of four asada tacos (plate pictured behind) from Mi Rancho Meat Market restaurant in Bellingham, Wash., on Jan. 30, 2024. The additional grilled pepper, limes and radish slices make delicious additions to the tacos. // Photo by Janisa Cook

As I drove up to Mi Rancho Meat Market for the first time in the early summer of 2023, I saw countless posters and signs, advertising tacos for $1. My initial thought was, how can these tacos be good if they’re so cheap?

While I’m not a picky eater, I do care about the quality of the food I eat. As a self-proclaimed foodie and at the strong recommendation from a friend, I decided I needed to try this restaurant.

From the carved and painted wooden seats to the flashy beer logos and painted windows, the colorful interior created a fun ambiance. The service style was casual – I was told to just grab a menu, find a seat and pay down the hall in Mi Rancho’s market area.

I was given warm tortilla chips with vibrant red and green salsa, plus a small bowl of pinto beans. Both salsas tasted incredibly fresh and slightly spicy. I ordered two asada (steak) tacos and two adobada (marinated pork). 

When the tacos came out, I was surprised. Tender, grilled meat with delicious seasoning sat upon homemade tortillas, topped with cilantro and onions. At first taste, all my previous hesitations flew out the window. The tacos, which I topped with salsa and lime juice, were delicious. 

I left Mi Rancho with only $5 less in my pocket and a new favorite taco spot.

This should be your new favorite taco restaurant too, especially if you are a student. 

“When I think of a good taco, I think of one that contains a little bit of everything with lots of color,” said Selva Wohlgemuth, a licensed functional dietitian and gut health expert and  owner of Happy Belly Nutrition, via email. “The more variety the better.”

One of the things many students struggle with is eating a nutritious diet. 

Many college students find it cheaper and easier to eat heavily processed junk food than healthy meals, according to the National Library of Medicine

This is not the case at Mi Rancho. Despite the inexpensive prices, the food quality is still high. 

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A Mi Rancho Meat Market employee hand-presses tortilla dough at the restaurant in Bellingham, Wash., on Jan. 30, 2024. The homemade tortillas add to the quality and freshness of each and every taco. // Photo by Janisa Cook

“We like everything to be natural, homemade,” said Luis Casillas Jr., who translated on behalf of his father Luis Casillas, the owner of Mi Rancho. “We cut our meat here, season it here, cook it here. The meat is grass-fed. Every day we cut and prepare the meat to make it as fresh as possible.”

Personally, I’d rather spend less than $10 on six quality tacos, than on a McCrispy chicken sandwich meal from McDonalds.  

The quality of meat and ingredients at Mi Rancho Meat Market are their best features, said Kyle Moss, a fourth-year student at Western Washington University. 

The homemade tortillas are a Mi Rancho staple, elevating the tacos to another level. The tortillas are made, pressed and cooked in-house, Casillas Jr. said. 

Stephany Govea, the co-owner of Burrito King, a Bellingham restaurant that often vends outside Western’s Viking Union, said a good taco is all about the quality of ingredients.

“[What makes us popular with students is] the quality of meat and fresh ingredients,” Govea said. “We do basically everything you can think of [ourselves] and it’s usually very fresh and day-of.”

In the great debate over the best taco spot for students, Burrito King and various independent taco trucks are all viable contenders. 

Some argue that Mi Rancho is too far from campus, located at ​​3092 Northwest Ave. To that, I would say public transportation is one of our greatest assets. 

If you take bus 108 to Bellingham Station, then bus 232, you’ll arrive a one-minute walk away from Mi Rancho. And if a 24-minute bus ride is too long, everyone needs at least one friend with a car or should make one for the 10-minute drive. 

Going off of the quality of the product in addition to the lowest prices, Mi Rancho wins the debate hands down. 

“It’s kind of a stereotype that college students don't have money. So it’s a great place to go on a budget for sure,” said Jaden Jentzsch, a fourth-year Western student. “You know, it's pretty cheap and a lot of fast food or other cheaper options are processed and Mi Ranchos is real, actually high-quality food.” 

Mi Rancho used to be known as the $1 taco spot, but due to inflation, their average taco is $1.50.

Luckily, Mi Rancho has faced little backlash in response to raising their prices. The community has been really helpful and understanding, Casillas said.

“We just really appreciate the support,” Casillas said. “We invite all students, all communities no matter the race. We’ll try not to bring the price up and keep things affordable so a lot of people can enjoy [our food].”

Janisa Cook

Janisa Cook (she/her) is an opinions reporter for The Front this quarter. She is also on Western's women’s rowing team. In her free time, she likes to paint, go to coffee shops, and hang out with her roommates. You can reach her at

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