On a chilly morning just outside Maverick Square in East Boston, the scent of braising meat is enough to draw diners into Mi Rancho, a modest Colombian restaurant that opens its doors at 7 a.m.
The space feels warm and friendly, with Mariachi music on the speakers, and neighbors and cops stopping in for coffee and arepas. The women behind the counter speak very little English, but a picture menu, and a glass case piled high with fried street snacks, sweet plantains, and stewed chicken make it simple enough to get a tasty meal with some enthusiastic pointing. You order at a counter, and the food is brought to your linoleum-topped table. Sometimes the empanadas are glorious, other times they’ve been sitting under the heat lamp for too long. Show up early. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.
Catherine Smart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.