La Casa de Pancho revives tex-mex cuisine scene

Restaurant - Sarah Ruiz

Photo by Sarah Ruiz The interior of La Casa de Pancho features Mexican décor.

Teresa Fleming, News Editor &

Louise Carhart,

Community Editor

flemingt17@grinnell.edu &

carhartl17@grinnell.edu

La Casa de Pancho is the heir to a long and illustrious legacy of fine midwestern Mexican cuisine. It has transformed the property once occupied by the late, great La Cabaña into a newer, cleaner space where Grinnell students can sample a small town take on south of the border favorites.

Three staff members, Louise Carhart, Teresa Fleming and Jack O’Malley, all ’17, and a seasoned margarita taster, Malachi Wickman ’16, explored the new menu and décor this past Wednesday.

The gang was greeted with several bowls of complimentary, freshly baked tortilla chips. The accompanying salsa was tasty but tame, with little of the spicy flavor patrons might expect from the usually savory dressing.

The “Casa de Pancho Nachos” were ordered as an appetizer, though they came with the meal. While this may seem to be a fault, these reviewers saw only positives when it was revealed that the dish was devoid of queso. Instead, melted shredded cheese is layered on top of beans, sour cream, guacamole, salsa and vegetables in a perfect medley. The chips could have been a little sturdier, but that didn’t distract from the taste.

The team ordered a mix of tacos, flautas, enchiladas, taquitos and tamales to sample a range of offerings. Wickman flashed her ID and tried the “classic margarita,” complete with freshly cut fruit. Entrée prices ranged from $7 to $8, making the restaurant a fairly affordable option for students looking to add a little spice to their Wednesday night.

The new renovations give the restaurant a more spacious feel, even with the addition of more seating. Tables have been personalized and new photos of Mexican scenery adorn the walls, helping to create a new identity that still provides the favorites Grinnellians have come to expect.

The offerings were filling and in large portions, with plenty of cheese and beans to supplement the meals. Although a tad bland at first, this can be remedied with one of the three hot sauces they provide. These range from Tapatio to El Yucateca — a green chile variety that packs a punch.

The bar has also been redone, complete with a bartender tending the tequila. The margarita was salty yet sweet, with a kick of the tequila taste.

Altogether, the meal left the team stuffed and a little upset with their lack of self-control. However, it was hard to complain with the prices and comfort food, which left them with full stomachs and even fuller hearts.