Pancho’s, 1005 Old Highway 90

7f7a4079

At home, because I’m a poor ass, I make a pot of beans every week. They’re a great source of protein, and they’re inexpensive to make. And in my beans, I don’t use animal fat. Which is fine. Cook them till tender with salt, garlic, onions, etc., and they taste great. Look, I’m 38 and I’m a Mexican from San Antonio, and I’m trying to not end up with four stents in my arteries when I get older.

That said, son of a bitch animal fat in beans is delicious.

This is the case with the refried beans at Pancho’s on Old Highway 90. They are smooth and creamy and loaded with flavor. These beans taste exactly like that amazing bean aroma you take in when near a taqueria. The cheese in the bean and cheese almost ruins the taco, the beans are that good. The tortilla is almost wafer thin and light. Almost like: Step aside, tortilla. And while eating this bean and cheese taco, there was a conjunto duo belting out corridos near the door and I really did tear up.

The rest of the tacos were, you know, alright. They didn’t inspire me one way or the other. They didn’t reach out and touch my very being to tell me everything is going to be OK and that I will in fact not die a lonely man, that there is hope, like some tacos do. Like the bean and cheese does here.

Another way of putting it minus the drama is that there was a drop-off.

On corn, the machacado taco was slightly dry. I realize it’s dried meat, but the overall taco doesn’t have to be dry. As far as the taste, the meat was well-seasoned. But this taco definitely needed some of the in-house hot sauce to moisten it up. And that’s fine. That’s what the chile is there for. This isn’t barbecue in Lockhart, where the sauce ruins the sanctity of the meat.

On flour, the chorizo and egg is exactly what you’d hope for in a chorizo and egg, the whole thing mixed together, and cooked fresh as it should. The egg in the egg a la Mexicana a little overcooked, but the flavors of the diced onions and peppers popped through.

The orange hot sauce obviously habanero and therefore obviously very hot. But tasty, slightly garlicy, and seemingly pure vegetable and water — no vinegar. The green a mellow, balanced and mild serrano.

I really enjoyed eating at Pancho’s. I think the conjunto dudes — whose name is Dueto Vendaval, according to their card — had something to do with it. It’s one of those place where people come up to you selling things or solicit donations. Pancho’s is on the western edge of what I consider to be the West Side. It’s almost rural looking over there, the businesses more spread out and less squeezed together like on Commerce (which is the same road as Old Highway 90, but on the other end) and Guadalupe/Castroville. Inside Pancho’s, there’s a sign that says “Homemade horchata.”

That bean and cheese though . . .

Editor’s Note: I realize that the name of Old Highway 90 was changed to Enrique M. Barrera a few years ago. And I’m purposefully breaking a journalistic rule of mine by going with the old. But I’m still not used to Barrera, which is named after the former City Councilman and activist. And Pancho’s lists its address as Old Highway 90. Maybe years from now, when this blog becomes a legitimate thing, I’ll go back and change the address on this post, but for right now this feels right.

Pancho’s, 1005 Old Highway 90, (210) 433-2800

Worth traveling across town for
Average S.A. taqueria. Some hits, some misses
Mostly misses

Benjamin Olivo

What do you think? Is there a taco I should have ordered, but didn’t? Have any taco news, issues or concerns? Email me at ben@thetacoist.com.

Yatzil, 502 S. Zarzamora St.

choriquiles-test

Written on its sign that overlooks Zarzamora Street, Yatzil Mexican Restaurant claims to be “The Best in the West.” I assume the marketing gurus behind the slogan are referring to San Antonio’s West Side. I’m not ready to agree with that, because the West Side is the Mecca of breakfast tacos, and I have not yet tried all the taquerias, but damn

Three tacos stand out here: the Yatzil Special Taco ($2.50), papas a la Mexicana with cheese and bacon; the Taco Amigo ($1.99), bean and cheese with bacon and guacamole; and the Chori-quiles ($1.99; above), which is a chilaquiles but with chorizo added. And they are all wonderful.

The Yatzil taco seemed larger than the others and included big chunks of potato. One of my favorite tacos — the papas a la Mexicana — is enhanced here with cheese and bacon. The diced onions, tomato and peppers blende beautifully with well-seasoned potatoes. Maybe the potatoes could have been crunchier, but now I’m nitpicking.

The Taco Amigo is not exactly revelatory: add guacamole to the classic bean, cheese and bacon (my favorite taco growing up). But damn everything was obviously fresh. I would bet money that those buttery beans and fresh guacamole were smashed on site.

The one that really tickled my fancy was the chori-quiles (pictured at the top). I knew exactly what it was when I saw it on the menu, and it delivered. The chips crunched like no other chilaquiles has crunched in my mouth before. This means the cook put the chips with the chorizo and egg mixture just before serving. I cannot emphasize how kickass this is, that there is that much attention to detail on a single taco. The chorizo a perfect ratio to the taco’s other elements. And with white cheese? Game, set, match. It’s now one of my favorite tacos.

We ordered others, but these were the standouts. The flour tortillas were fluffy with perfect chew. The green salsa seemed like straight up serrano and the red a non-oily chile de arbol with some serious vinegar kick.

Either of these work on any taco there. And I invite you to explore the menu. We would have ordered the nopales con huevo and the weenie and egg, but there wasn’t enough room.

Lastly, the potato and egg taco. It was made with freshly scrambled eggs, and of course potatoes, which were all hot on one those excellent tortillas. It’s 99 cents if you order it between 6-10 a.m. Monday- Friday. As Jaime pointed out, order two of those and you’re good through lunch and maybe beyond. So many times, super cheap tacos also mean a reduction in quality. Not here. Definitely not here.

Yatzil, 502 S. Zarzamora St., (210) 432-2240

Worth traveling across town for
Average S.A. taqueria. Some hits, some misses
Mostly misses

Benjamin Olivo

What do you think? Is there a taco I should have ordered, but didn’t? Have any taco news, issues or concerns? Email me at ben@thetacoist.com.

Fajita Taco Place, 1816 Thompson Place

fajitatacoplace1

First, the name. On my first review as The Tacoist, I stumbled upon a place with the word “fajita” in its name. Of course, I didn’t try the fajita tacos because I’m eating breakfast tacos here.

Second, the salsa bar. Yes, Fajita Taco Place on the southwest side — on Thompson Place basically across General McMullen from Kennedy High School — has a salsa bar a la Taco Cabana. The dark red sauce had flakes in it suggesting it was made from guajillo, ancho or another dried pepper. The second and third hottest being a standard green sauce and ranchero sauce. The bar also offered taco accessories jalapenos and pico del gallo.

My taco order: bean, cheese and bacon; chorizo and egg; and carne guisada with cheese. This is going to be the hardest part about reviewing these restaurants — figuring out what to order. I’ll probably have to conscript a taco crew for Review #2 and have everybody order something different.

fajitataco_salsabar

These tacos were just plain good — not bad and not great. The tortillas were your standard homemade flour tortillas. They weren’t as fluffy and powdery as I prefer, but tasty nonetheless. The carne guisada was well seasoned and had all that flavor from all of the bits that come from the braising process. AND, the carne guisada wasn’t fatty, which I appreciated. The bean in the bean, cheese and bacon — because, it’s really the beans you’re judging — were nice and buttery. And the chorizo and egg was more chorizo than egg and not greasy at all.

Fajita Taco Place, 1816 Thompson Place, (210) 432-8506

Worth traveling across town for
Average S.A. taqueria. Some hits, some misses
Mostly misses

Benjamin Olivo

What do you think? Is there a taco I should have ordered, but didn’t? Have any taco news, issues or concerns? Email me at ben@thetacoist.com.