Foodie Fridays: Damn Good Mexican at Panchita’s

I’m no stranger to a fine Mexican establishment. In fact, back in my day, my family used to frequent a restaurant that offered its patrons the use of a little Mexican flag to raise when in need of a waiter.

Pancho’s Mexican Super Buffet has since closed (twice, actually,) and these days, it’s getting harder and harder to find a fine Mexican dining experience outside of bellying up to some guy’s van outside of a shady bar. There’s only a handful of quality, authentic Mexican or Tex Mex restaurants left in a city that’s thriving with new dining growth. There seems to be a bit of a gap in this kind of eatery.

Panchitas Sign

Photo Credit: Eric Knoepfler
Photo Credit: Eric Knoepfler

Gaps in a city’s dining industry can only be filled by two things. There’s the obvious route, more restaurants of that type of cuisine. But no one wants another Chile’s. Then there’s the more unconventional method, which is what brought us to Panchita’s today: it’s just so damn good.

What It’s About

Walking into Panchita’s almost made the cool mid 50s weather irrelevant. Fans slowly spun hanging from the bright red ceiling. Murals and regional paintings adorned the walls of the no-bigger-than our office establishment. The only other group in there eating lunch spoke fluently with the waitress, probably laughing about something I culturally wouldn’t understand.

I felt like ordering a margarita.

What I Got

Some of us have to work, though, so I took it to myself to get down to business and start wolfing down some chips and salsa. The two types of salsa they brought out – red and green – were enough to make my mouth water. And if the warmth of the atmosphere wasn’t already making me sweat, this could’ve brought me over the edge had it not been for Mexican Coke.

Coca Cola, that is.

Photo Credit: Eric Knoepfler
Photo Credit: Eric Knoepfler

Mexican Coca Cola is a Godsend, being made with actual sugar and none of that good ole U S of A corn syrup crap kids are currently getting fat off of. This tasteful refreshment came in a half liter glass bottle with a cup of ice. No self-respecting fan of Mexican Coke uses the ice, though. Straight out of the bottle for me.

The next step on my journey into Panchita’s was the menu. The suggestion was brought up at the table to ignore the odd numbers of the dishes on the menu, which would’ve still left too many items to choose from. I went with the Empanadas. While I’m more of a burrito man myself, there’s one thing I wanted on my plate. I ordered a side of Mole Sauce with extra rice.

“Mole?” the waiter asked.

Yeah, guy. Slap some in a bowl, and I’m dipping my Mexican meat pies in there like no mono-lingual guy ever has. It was magnificent.

Photo Credit: Eric Knoepfler
Photo Credit: Eric Knoepfler

My Judgement

The best part about Panchita’s is, besides the delicious food, the price. My meal was around $9, and there was a lot of it. Tacos are cheap as can be, and the service was quick and friendly. Not once did my demand for more tortilla chips go unheeded, and every break in our dining was met by a smile and a kind, “How’s your food, guys?”

The cons of Panchita’s, because you know I have to at least list one, would probably have to include the seating. There’s not much space for a party larger than five. Also, parking. But that’s true for any restaurant on Carrollton Avenue. Can’t outweigh the overall experience I had there, so I give it a thumbs up.

Panchita’s – you won’t regret it. Now, time for that margarita.

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Photo Credit: Eric Knoepfler

About Eric

Eric is a New Orleans native and graduate of Loyola. He grew up in Kenner and is embarrassed to tell you that. He lives Uptown and frequents local watering holes to socialize with peers. His hobbies include writing, making bad jokes, and casually observing the day to day life of New Orleans.

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