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Come early, eat well at Mi Rancho

Top: arepa con carne desmechada (with flank steak filling). Above left: meat-filled empanadas. Above right: Mi Rancho’s owner Luis Mesa with a couple of  his staff at the counter.
Top: arepa con carne desmechada (with flank steak filling). Above left: meat-filled empanadas. Above right: Mi Rancho’s owner Luis Mesa with a couple of his staff at the counter.Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff

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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.

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