Ole! Bienvenidos! (Welcome) What fun it is at Los Pancho’s Tacos & Tequila Bar, even if you aren’t a tacos or tequila fan! There are so many more choices. But first, a bit about this brand new, charming upscale restaurant located in a perfect corner on busy Lake Avenue adjacent to the Lake Worth Playhouse. Keep Los Pancho’s in mind for an ideal dinner & theater night out. The decor, the Spanish-speaking sta, the authentic cuisine and the ambiance will make you feel like you just stepped off the plane in Acacpulco. The food is as revolutionary as the restaurant’s namesake, “Pancho Villa”, the Mexican revolutionary general. (Revolutionary, meaning for example, we ate grasshoppers and tasted a smoked mezcal Margarita, but more on these later.)
Start with a Margarita “Clasico” (classic) because it’s one of the best you’ll ever have. It’s not your typical bar juice-sugar mix, it’s made with Blanco Tequila, Fresh Lime and Agave. Also, the Strawberry Mint Margarita is just terric, made of Blanco Tequila, Fresh Lime, Muddled Strawberries & Mint, and Agave. The muddled strawberries are exquisitely fresh and the mint is really mint-y making the drink truly delightful. If you’re up for something absolutely unique, try the Smoked Mezcal Margarita that uses burned hickory and produces real smoke inside the glass. If you just like Mescal, have Mezcal Infused Strawberries which are simple and divine.
Once you give your order, you can sip on your delicious Margarita and have an amazing “Apertivo” (appetizer.) Order “Pancho’s Nachos” which will certainly not be what you expect or have seen at any other restaurant. Move everything aside on your table and make way for a giant platter that includes Barbacoa (beef), Queso Blanco( white cheese), Pinto Beans, Pico de Gallo (salsa), Candied Jalapeno, and Poblano-Corn Crema. The platter is a mountain of food, really, and not just with white corn chips but organic blue corn chips too, built up into a tower. The kids will love this and so will the adult kids, with everyone guaranteed to “ooh and ahh” when this colossal appetizer is set down on the table.
We met José, the Kitchen Manager who explained that everything is made in-house. The cheeses are not processed and the tortillas are homemade fresh everyday. You won’t find better quesadillas, tacos or fajitas unless you head south of the border. Another “revolutionary” item is the “Birria” made with braised brisket, unusual for a Mexican restaurant, served with pickled red onions, Queso (cheese) Chihuahua (a town in Mexico), and cilantro. The brisket is tender and juicy and even comes with a small side bowl for ‘au jus” that uses the meat’s own juice to create a sauce (with a little kick to it) that’s wonderful for dunking.
It’s your dining time out so why not spoil yourself and try the “Lobster Fajitas”? What a delicacy—it’s a party in your mouth. It’s served on a sizzling platter with warmed tortillas on the side. This is heaven but there are other tasty choices, too: chicken, shrimp and steak fajitas are on the menu, also served with charred onion, tomato & peppers, sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo.
Confirming the casual, friendly atmosphere, a couple passed by our table on their way out and said, “don’t miss the Mahi.” Of course, then we just had to try the “Crispy Baja” which is a taco with crispy beer-battered Mahi-Mahi (dolphin fish), red cabbage slaw, sliced avocado and Chipotle Remoulade. The couple was right–this is a winner simply not to be missed and worth a special visit to Lake Worth.
Now, from the extraordinary to the even more extraordinary, the surprise gastronomic pleasure of the evening: “The Pancho Way” Grasshopper Taco. No, it’s not the long, green jumping kind of locust at all. These are small and look almost like berries. The taco is made with Oaxacan Grasshoppers (from the town of Oaxaca in Mexico), Roasted Poblano (mild peppers), Jicama Slaw Mojo de Ajo (spicy slaw with garlic and chiles), Charred Pineapple, and avocado. The grasshoppers are called “chapulines” which are sun-dried and then the insides are cleaned out. I found it spicy and crunchy but surprisingly delicious, and I finished the entire taco, so be brave and give it a try for a truly unexpected unique and sensational treat.
If you are in the trend of not eating meat, you can always order the “Impossible” Taco made with Plant-Based “meat”, sliced avocado, charred corn, onion and cilantro. It has no soy, no gluten and is Vegan-approved with 35% less saturated fat than a 4 oz patty of ground beef. Wait, don’t leave yet—there are “Postres” (Desserts) of “Tres Leches (3-milk) Cheesecake, Flan (custard) or Churros (pastry) offering something satisfyingly sweet after any dishes that were “picante” (spicy.”)
I can’t wait to go back for a Classic Margarita and that crispy Baja Mahi-Mahi Taco (and maybe even a Grasshopper Taco) so I’m practicing some Spanish words that I owe to Arnold Schwarzenegger: “Vuelvo enseguida” (I’ll Be Back.)
Los Pancho’s Tacos & Tequila Bar
717 Lake Avenue, Lake Worth, FL 33460
Deby Goldfarb has taught at Boston University, has been a columnist and cable TV show host in Boston, and has contributed to Simply the Best since 2009. She also owns an event website, SteppingOutFlorida.com