A few days ago I was off work and decided it would be fun to hang out with my Mimi (my dad’s mom) for the day which is always a good choice and this day was no different. We spent the day at one of my favorite spots in Memphis, the zoo and then had lunch at one of her favorite spots, Pancho’s and that is what I’m going to write about this morning. Pancho’s seems to hold a special place in the hearts of people who grew up here but for me it wasn’t one of my favorite Mexican restaurants and usually only visited with my grandparents who absolutely love the place. I didn’t go into our lunch with high expectations but overall it was a really good meal.
Our waiter who introduced himself as Slader every time he came to the table was very friendly and personable but certainly not the best waiter we could have hoped for. I had a water and my mimi ordered a sweet tea with lemon. The drinks arriver relatively fast but there was no lemon in the tea and she asked politely for some lemon and a cup of ice as her tea was freshly brewed and still pretty warm, both reasonable requests. Slider said he of course would bring out some ice and lemon for her and then he proceeded to take our order. Mimi got a cheese and onion enchilada with a side of rice and beans and I ordered the Fiesta Dos lunch special where you picked two things from a list of their popular items which was served with rice and beans. I got a beef and a chicken enchilada so I could judge them in comparison to the enchiladas I’d eaten in the past couple of weeks at Playita Mexicana. The waiter said he would get our order out to us soon and in the meantime would bring out the lemons and ice requested by mimi.
About ten minutes passed and we didn’t see Slader during that time and when he finally appeared he walked directly past us with neither of the items mimi needed for her tea. I waved him down and asked politely if he could go and get them and once again he gave us that award winning smile and said of course he would and disappeared again. The food was brought to us by a different person and it looked absolutely delicious. We had already been munching on the complimentary chips, salsa, and “famous” cheese dip which were great. Although the chips were nothing to special I really enjoyed the salsa and I give bonus points to Pancho’s for giving cheese dip as well free of charge. While most people might shrug off the rice and beans as just a side I like to give special consideration to them when judging a meal because it’s something that a lot of restaurants have but few prepare these simple dishes very well. The rice was really good and there wasn’t the overwhelming taste of tomato sauce that I’ve come to expect at many places and the beans were a perfect consistency of not too puree’d but not too lumpy either. Overall both of the side dishes were fantastic and I give them an A plus.
A few minutes after the entrees arrived Slader stopped by to see how things were going and if there was anything he could get for us. We once again asked for the lemon and the ice and he once again scurried off to retrieve them. He returned a few minutes later finally bringing the items mimi had requested at the start of the meal. Both of my enchiladas were delicious but I preferred the beef over the chicken. The dark sauce over the beef was very creamy and rich and was definitely a step up from the normal red sauce thrown onto enchiladas at other Mexican restaurants. The cheese sauce on the chicken enchilada was very thick and much appreciated by myself as a cheese lover. There was a single jalapeño on top which I appreciated because I do enjoy a little spice in my Mexican food but would have loved more. The only strange thing about the plate was the black olives that garnished the beef enchilada. To me olives seem more at home in a mediterranean dish rather than on something south of the border and while it was unique and possibly appreciated by others I pushed them to the side after sampling one and getting a flavor that would most assuredly take away from the Mexican flavors rather than enhancing them. Mimi really enjoyed her food and when it was time to leave we were both satisfied with the meal and pretty stuffed.
I have said it before but service is a big component of a meal and while Slader, our waiter was very friendly he wasn’t the best we’ve ever had. He had an air of attentiveness about him as he constantly checked up on us but failed to deliver on the few simple things we asked for and had to be constantly reminded of them. The food was really great, a lot better than I remembered and I was really impressed with the great tastes from the simple side dishes. Overall I’m going to give Pancho’s a 7 out of 10 rating with points being taken off for the service and the atmosphere of the restaurant which was pretty dark and somewhat dingy. The free cheese dip was a nice touch and the enchiladas along with their respective sauces had great flavors. The price was a little more for lunch than some of the other Mexican restaurants I’ve been to in Memphis but I would definitely recommend this place to anyone looking for good Mexican food. Before this visit Pancho’s had never been my choice of places to eat but rather I went along when somebody else wanted to go but I will definitely seek it out in the future as a viable option when I’m craving good food at a Mexican restaurant.