Taco’s Pancho Villa Spices Up Downtown Wilkes-Barre

Getting there was half the battle. (No debit cards, accepted, so we made two trips – and we intercepted a CVS manager chasing a shoplifter.)

The other half of the battle was getting through my meal without losing every ounce of mucous in my nose and keeping my mascara in tact.

None of that is meant negatively, mind you. It all boils down to taste. Literally. See. Everything within our borders has been Americanized, even what we understand as ethnic things. Naturally, this makes little sense to me, because American things often seem to be purposefully foreignized, if that’s really a word. I remember as a Brownie waving an American flag in a Memorial Day parade and my friend Jasmine pointed out – as she still does today – the ‘Made in China’ tag.)

Anyway, I digress. The point I am getting at is that I often say that Mexican food is my favorite, meaning I like tostadas at Taco Bell, enchiladas at Chi-Chi’s and burritos at Don Pablo’s. So when a new Mexian restaurant, dubbed “authentic,” opened on Main Street, I was so there. And I dragged a long my trusty assistant. In fact, the only thing hotter than my lunch date was the food.

See, at real Mexican restaurants, patrons do not get the luxury of getting hot sauce upon request in a little packet. It’s a given. And, at real Mexican restaurants, the cuisine does not taste anything like the fast food places, and really, not much like the chain places.

We seated ourselves, and even though the place was small, we had many seating options. Aside from a table filled with four men, we were the only ones there. We were given a bilingual menu and some nachos. The homemade salsa given to us on the house was by far the best I’ve ever had. (Sorry, Old El Paso!) Total kudos to this subtly spicy concoction of onions, tomatos, peppers and cilantro- it was bursting with flavor. The chips served with it were fresh and hot with the right amount of salt.

When the waitress returned to take our order, she took mine and when my companion started to order, she left the table to answer the phone. That was not what I would call quality service. But she was sweet, so we won’t mark that too hard against her. I ordered a three enchiladas platter, one of each type: beef, chicken and cheese (or queso, Rollo Y Res, De Mole Poblano). These were $7.00, but since I got one of each, it was $1.00 extra. I was asked if I wanted green or red sauce. In retrospect, I realized green=cool and red=hot. I went through all of the napkins on the table wiping tears out of my eyes from the fiery red sauce.

Now, I am positive the quality of meat was very many times higher than that of fast food, and I know that this is how tacos and the like are supposed to be made. However, being used to the mushy Taco Bell meat, the big pieces of shredded and marinated meat took some getting used to. The cheese and chicken enchilada were better. The rice was good, but the beans were a little more runny that I would have liked. With the two side orders, $7.00 was an okay value. But I take a little issue with the extra dollar for trying a mixture of enchiladas. Next time I will get all cheese.

My partner opted for three chicken tacos. He asked the waitress to have those without lettuce and tomato, but we were told they didn’t come that way. Tostadas do. Their tacos only come with the meat, onions and cilantro. We liked having an authentic Mexican waitress (it beats a skater kid mispronouncing ‘case-a-dilla’), but he did miss that she said the big ‘o’ word when she rattled off the ingredients. But even after scraping off the onions, he enjoyed the soft shell tacos. These were $1.00 each and a good value.

With just one can of Diet Pepsi that I drank rather quickly and all of the nachos gone, I had nothing to douse out the flames in my mouth. I was flushed, hot, crying and sweating- symptoms a 27-year-old woman should not have yet. However, with the proper knowledge of ingredients and the spicy-scale, I could do this place again.

If one is looking for American Mexican (read: mild) they had better run for the border. Fast. The border of American that is.

Pancho Villa is open until 1:00 a.m. and it does have free delivery, scoring points for the typical college-age person. The place also serves breakfast, desserts and has a very large menu of authentic food. For their high-quality food, which takes getting used to, they get a B-, for the service and inconvenience of no cards they get a C, and for the salsa, they get an A. That averages to B.

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