Photos courtesy of the Hernandez family

Hey there, it’s Emilia, your local, feisty 9-year-old, back to share about my latest girls’ dinner date at a modern Southwestern cuisine spot, Ghost Ranch.

Stepping in from the dark and rainy night, we were warmly greeted by all things Southwestern. From Aztec paintings to my favorite snake plants and cow skull head lights, this restaurant sparked my inner Arizona spirit. The booth seats sported an Aztec print, and the chairs were wrapped in cowhide, which I found super fun! Shortly after we settled in, we ordered some drinks. Keeping the water bottle on our table was a neat touch, especially since I drink loads of water! My mom appreciated the lid, safeguarding against my occasional spills.

Our waiter was incredibly friendly, even though we arrived just an hour before closing. His family was dining right next to us, so when I asked for the best picks, he eagerly shared his favorites and the less popular items. Though there was a kids’ menu featuring items like chicken enchiladas and quesadillas, I opted to venture into something new.

Choosing was hard, but I went for the Sampler Platter. It boasted a grilled skirt steak, three enchiladas—one pork, one veggie, and one chicken—and a cheese-filled chile relleno. The grilled skirt steak was my highlight; perfectly cooked with a delicious red sauce that was flavorful, spicy, and juicy all in one. How do they do that?!

I figured out that cheese-filled chile rellenos aren’t my thing, but my sister loved them! Perhaps my stomach was just making room for the dairy overload I was anticipating.

On our waiter’s recommendation, I indulged in the most incredible coconut tres leches cake. I’m not exactly sure what horchata mousse is, but it pairs wonderfully with strawberries! Light, fluffy, with toasted coconut shavings on top—it was a dream.

If you ever find yourself in South Tempe, I urge you to visit Ghost Ranch for some Southwestern cuisine amidst the friendliest staff and super cool cow skull lights!

Ghost Ranch is located at 1006 E. warner Rd., #102-103, in Tempe. For more information, visit