Ranchero depicts the journey, both geographic and personal, of Jesse Torres (Roger Gutierrez), a first generation Mexican-American with Rockabilly style and a passion for photographing everything he sees.
After the deaths of his parents, Jesse leaves the cattle ranch he has worked for twenty years and strikes out alone for the bright lights of Los Angeles. He moves next door to his estranged childhood friend Tom (Brian Eric Johnson), who has been subsisting in a low-rent Hollywood apartment. They struggle to redraw the boundaries of their friendship as Jesse comes face to face with the harsh realities of Toms world - a morass of drug addiction and abandoned dreams.
Unemployed and virtually unemployable in his new urban surroundings, Jesse finds that Los Angeles doesnt quite live up to its image as a land of opportunity. He is soon reduced to working at a grocery store, herding shopping carts instead of cattle.
A spark of hope comes into Jesses lonely existence when he forms a tentative friendship with his co-worker and neighbor Lil Bit (Christina Woods). Lil Bit lives her own life of struggle and servitude working on the side for a small-time hustler named Capone (Danny Trejo). As Jesses relationship with Lil Bit intensifies, he decides that he must confront Capone if he wants a chance at freedom for himself and for Lil Bit.
At Rancheros climax all three main characters must accept that lifes challenges, as well as the obstacles to their own happiness, are best met and not avoided.