I prefer Rancho. The one time I ate at Big Thunder BBQ, the food was uninspiring, at best. When I eat at Rancho I like to get either the Grilled Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos or the Tostada Salad and always have to get a back of Cinnamon Crisps- they're SO good!
Price point might be a big consideration. Rancho is a higher-end counter service restaurant, aka buffeteria. Entrees usually cost around $10 - $12. The BBQ, on the other hand, is a family-style all you can eat affair, I think somewhere around $25 a head. I've never eaten at the BBQ so I won't comment on that, but I have eaten at Rancho and do like it very much. It is one of my favorite buffeterias at the resort. I usually get the enchiladas, and the portions are huge. Last time I went I noticed the portions were a bit smaller, but still more than enough to satisfy. The quality is pretty good. It isn't gourmet - just somewhat similar to what you could get at Acapulco, but by theme park standards I'd rate it at above average.
The food at big thunder BBQ is okay but I would say that rancho is better. With that said, I think that the food at Cocina cucamonga is better. Hovever, most people on this board are going to disagree with me.
As we say to the animals, that's the end of the lion.
RACE THROUGH THE UNIVERSE, CAREEN THROUGH THE STARS.
The two are completely different. At Big Thunder Ranch BBQ for lunch you get all you can eat BBQ Chicken and Ribs, unbelievably good cole slaw, BBQ beans, & corn bread. For dinner, they add corn on the cob and sausage. Lunch is 19.99 for adults, dinner is 24.99, drinks and desserts are extra. Very good food in my opinion (I have eaten there 37 times since it opened last April - 37 1/3 if you count the time I just went for dessert with some friends). I believe kids are $9.99 anytime.
There is live entertainment all day at BTRBBQ, the only table service restaurant at Disneyland that offers entertainment (other than people watching).
Rancho Del Zocalo is somewhat less expensive (it is Quick Service, not Table Service). Offers tacos, burritos, cheese enchiladas, carne asada, and a couple of salads - I think there is also a chicken dish, but I'm not sure. Currently they are serving grilled Mahi Mahi fish tacos (not the battered and fried kind you usually see) which are absolutely wonderful (in my not so humble opinion). Some tables afford a great view of the end of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
They are two of my favorite places to eat at DLR, so either is a good choice in my opinion. If you don't find something you like there, then try the fried chicken at the Plaza Inn, the chicken fusilli at Redd Rocketts Pizza Port, the Salmon or the baked pasta at the French Market, anything at the Riverbelle Terrace, the Chicken Gumbo Crepes at Cafe Orleans (and don't miss the Pommes Frites appetizer, or the French Onion Soup, or maybe just have a bowl of gumbo) or - absolutely anything at Blue Bayou (but you better make a reservation, best a couple of days ahead at least - 714-781-DINE). Also, I like the Carnation Cafe on Main Street, another Table Service restaurant, for breakfast, and later for the Meatloaf Stack and the Chicken Croissant Club sandwich.
There are many other options - these are just my favorites. And I am a Cast Member at Disneyland (at Blue Bayou) but I really do eat at these places regularly and enjoy them. So feel free to toss in a grain of salt when following my recommendations if you feel you must - but I make the same recommendations to my family and my best friends.
A friend of mine, who is not into spicy, likes the fish tacos at Rancho Del Zocalo but has them leave off the chipotle sauce (unless we're eating together - then she gets it on the side and gives it to me). They also are happy to serve their plates with all beans, no rice, or vice versa - just ask when you order.
If your going to spend 12-13 dollars go to Cafe Orleans right across from the exit of Pirates and eat there. I love the menu and have had most of the items on it at separate times. And its 15.95 and it delicious. The Monte Cristo is wonderful and generous 2 people can split that thing. Also the French Onion soup is the best I have ever had. Also the Gumbo is delicious as well. I know it's not a restaurant you asked about but it is good. And you can sit down and have a nice meal.
I have never been a fan of Rancho but I have been to the BBQ and I loved it, yes it is a bit more expensive but since they have re-opened it has been worth it. Although we go with my friends husband who clears the table. Cupcakes are really yummy!