Ope! Tomorrow, March 10th is National Ranch Dressing Day, and around these parts, ranch is a religion. Get out of here with bottled ranch. We are Midwesterners, and we have ranch pride — at least I do.
I’ve had many a side of ranch in Champaign-Urbana, and these are my favorites. Surely, these aren’t the only great ranch dressings in C-U, so your favorite ranch isn’t included, please get real mad about it in the comments or email to tell us what remarkable ranch I missed.
The ranch at Bunny’s Tavern in Urbana is one of my favorites in C-U. Bunny’s ranch is included with onion rings (and fried mushrooms, jalapeño poppers, and fried pickles), but you can add a side of ranch to anything on the menu for $0.50. With lots of chopped herbs, the ranch has a nice acidity and an awesome garlic-pepper taste that pairs well with any of the appetizers on the Urbana tavern’s menu.
All of the dressings are made in house at Farren’s Pub & Eatery in Downtown Champaign. The ranch here is great, and it’s included with an order of pub’s crispy onion rings and four other appetizers. Farren’s ranch is silky smooth with a nice creamy flavor. An extra side of ranch costs $0.50, but if you really love Farren’s ranch, they offer a pint of it for $11.
At Hamilton Walker’s steakhouse, when you order a side of ranch, you get a genie’s lamp full. HW’s ranch has fresh herbs, a rich garlic flavor, and is so delicious. At $4, it’s the priciest, but it’s also the largest side of ranch I’ve seen in town. Pour it over the steakhouse’s smashed gold potatoes, dip the steak fries, or just drink it up.
Everyone I know who likes ranch loves the ranch at Seven Saints. The onion rings app comes with chipotle ranch, and adding a side of Seven Saints’ regular ranch costs $1. Served in what could be a small soup bowl, Seven Saints’ sides of ranch are pretty big. The chipotle ranch is not for me (too smoky), but the regular ranch is super good. This creamy ranch has everything: a great herby flavor, slightly sour tang, and a big enough dish to dip an entire onion ring.
Smith Burger Co.
The burger food truck Smith Burger Co. has a housemade ranch that they slather on the truck’s bacon burger, but you can order a side of it for $0.50. The ranch is gloopy, herbaceous, and so good with Smith Burger’s fries.
Watson’s Shack & Rail
All the from-scratch sauces at Watson’s Shack & Rail are excellent, and I love the restaurant’s black pepper buttermilk ranch. This ranch makes an appearance on the restaurant’s firecracker shrimp po’ boy and the buffalo starchild, but no matter what I order at the chicken shack, I like to add a side of ranch, which costs $1. Made in house, Watson’s ranch is herby with a great tangy buttermilk flavor, and it’s thick enough to scoop a mouthful on a potato wedge.
Black Dog Smoke & Ale House
Black Dog Smoke & Ale House has ranch dressing, but they also have Alabama white barbecue, one of the restaurant’s ten made-in-house sauces. This sauce is a slightly sweet mayo-based sauce that is super garlicky and has sliced green onions in it, and it’s a really good dip.