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The Ranch Hotel

Home > Sydney > Food and Wine | Pubs
Published April 17th 2012
Much has changed in the course of this pub's lifetime, and whether it's an improvement or not depends on who you ask. Older patrons of The-Pub-Formerly-Known-As-El-Rancho will recall its former status as "El Puncho", borne from an era when beer was much cheaper, responsible service of alcohol was limited to ensuring the kegs didn't run dry, a "pokie" was a game you might play with a member of the opposite sex in the car park, and maliciously wounding anyone who looked at you sideways was considered normal behaviour.

Over the years, this rougher element has been purged, catering to a whole new demographic. Some of the veterans are convinced this change has been a crime against humanity, although it hasn't stopped them from coming. Others (especially cops and local residents) have welcomed it, and it now draws a less temperamental crowd.

This is a very spacious establishment with maybe half the indoor area devoted to the popular family bistro. Meals, while pricey, are definitely better than most pub feeds. I for one am tired of every pub in Sydney offering the same half a dozen meals as the next place, so the diversity on this menu is a fresh change. The seating caters to groups of a few up to a few dozen, there are adjacent areas with play equipment and video games to keep the kids busy, and the outdoor area is great for a meal and a beer in the sun.

Options for indoor and outdoor dining

Inside the main bar, they have torn down the dividing wall around a year ago to create a larger dance floor, which gets packed out with young folk every Wednesday, flailing away to the latest top forty drivel. On these nights, you'll be sent around the rear entrance by a big friendly giant who looks like Steven Seagal, and if you're in a half-decent state you'll get in. The young crowd is largely comprised of international students from the university over the road, and plenty of local blokes hoping to "bridge the cultural divide" with the (mostly American) girls. They've named the event "Hump", and judging from the number of casual liaisons that eventuate, this title's not just referring to it being middle of the week.

The aesthetic overhaul seems to have worked for the owners, re-attracting the thirsty student crowd that they once had and then lost for a while. Other days are much quieter, and recent ventures to enhance Friday nights haven't been as well-received. Regardless, they will always be paid a weekly visit from the jovial regulars, who will be there to liven things up on the balcony every Friday as surely as the sun sets in the West.

Out on this balcony, you may be visited by a surly cockatoo, so hold onto your drinks. This spiteful creature will perch in front of you waiting for a cracker or a nut, and if you do not oblige, it will happily pick your glass up in its oversized beak, fly out above the carpark, and let it smash onto the bitumen below. Meanwhile, back inside, the bar staff are pretty upbeat and good for some banter. The security are pretty reasonable, although you can count on being turfed for any un-Ranch-like behaviour.


If you're interested in getting some "cold ones" for the road, there is a connected drive-thru BWS, run by a classy Vietnamese gentleman who knows his product well. Finally, there is a courtesy bus that runs Wednesday - Sunday doing free pick-ups and drop-offs. It's a bit worse for wear after the dismal performance of the last driver they had, who has recently been replaced for some very un-Ranch-like behaviour. While this service is probably running on time like it's supposed to now, rumour has it the female clientele has decreased dramatically.

Check out the official website here.

Disclaimer: As a professional writer of the highest ethical and moral standard, I am obliged to declare that I have been professionally associated with the Ranch in the past).
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Why? I've always had a soft spot for this local of mine.
When: Open 7 days.
Where: Herring Road, Marsfield
Your Comment
Hail to the bus driver, bus driver man!
by will. (score: 0|2) 3314 days ago
hasn't been the same since Woolies took it over 5 years ago. Prices went through the roof & service non-existent. We were regulars but no longer.
by gotta1 (score: 0|3) 3312 days ago
I've heard of this statement commonly refrred to as 'tongue in cheek' and i can only assume yours is firmly in yours. I'm a family man, love a feed, love a bet and can watch sport whilst I sleep. This pub should be able to offer all and appeal to all walks of life yet it consistently lets down its patrons. Whether it's a bloke in a singlet wanting a schooner and a punt, or a table for 24 celebrating Mother's Day....hang your head in shame Woolworths, give it back to an independent operator.....P.S. I am not a disgruntled former employee, just an ex customer who won't go back.
by Mr Quintessential (score: 1|93) 3309 days ago
they supposedly have this great sports bar but how many times do I go there and the screens don't work or the tab sheets aren't up. Reason, the manager hasn't got to it yet. Go back to groceries Woolies.
by Mr Quintessential (score: 1|93) 3309 days ago
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