First visit: December 2011
Panchita's is a new restaurant that opened its doors this August. It's housed in the former Windy City Deli location, and is a couple of doors down from Niki's (featured on this blog somewhere). They are a husband and wife run establishment, and you can tell that they use only fresh ingredients. No large platters of enchiladas here - each meal is individually handcrafted. The food is a mixture of Tex-Mex and Mexican from the interior. There's even a hint of New Mexico, and not surprisingly there's a family heritage from there.
The chips are crispy corn and the salsa served is what we typically see in Colorado: A mixture of tomatoes, chilies, onions and cilantro. It was good with a nice kick. As such I wasn't sure they would have a "hotter" one, but indeed they do. It's a tomatillo based green sauce blended with jalapenos and/or maybe serrano's. Definitely contains more heat and thus smooths out the bitterness typically associated with tomatillo. And, as it turns out from a second visit, they also have a blazing spicy butterscotch colored habanero sauce that is outstanding. As for an entree, I went with the super bargain $5.75 lunch special (Tue-Fri only) and had a cheese enchilada, a chicken enchilada and a ground beef taco. The cheese enchilada featured a delicious chili con carne sauce. For the chicken I asked what their hottest sauce was. They said to try the guajillo sauce. The chile itself isn't very hot, but their reddish orange blended sauce had some punch, though I wish there was a bit more of it. The beef taco featured a homemade crunchy shell and the ground beef was well seasoned. The charro beans were delicious with the right amount of bean and bacon flavor. The rice was a tad mushy and the only mistake of the meal, but it tasted good all the same. Perhaps better for the RJG, was the Mrs.' reaction. She had a cup of the tortilla soup which she said was delicious. Perhaps even better was the carne asada gordita, which came in a crispy "pocket". Best she's ever had other than at home, she claims. So a huge hit from our Lady of Sonora.
The restaurant layout has two distinct settings - a darkened lounge with TV screens and a full bar, and then secondly a regular dining area with some natural lighting from outside.
Panchita's is very good and I think it could use more exposure. This is a cut above your usual Tex-Mex restaurant and this is a young couple putting everything they have into it. Tired of the same ole' place? Give Panchita's a try.