Taco Review: Pancho Villa

In an effort to share my taco eating endeavors with more friends and to make a push to get back on track with my taco count, I met up with LaurenTaco at her favorite Twin Cities taco spot, Pancho Villa.

Sitting at a small outdoor table along Nicolette with a Mariachi Band strumming some tunes inside, we chit-chatted over chips and salsa for quite a while. I ordered the campechanos meal which consists of 3 tacos with a chorizo, pastor, and nopales mixture topped with diced onions and cilantro. I was under the impression that this would be 3 separate tacos (1 chorizo, 1 pastor, 1 nopales) so when the server came out to inform me about 5 minutes after taking my order that the kitchen was out of nopales, I figured I would just get a lengua taco instead. This was followed by a stare-down that lasted a beat longer than socially comfortable as we both tried to figure out what the other was getting at. After a couple of re-explanations by both parties, and some exhausted hamsters running on the little wheels that work our brains, I finally figured out that this was supposed to be a meat mixture, not individual meats. So I settled with the chorizo and pastor without the nopales. I was pretty disappointed as my last encounter with nopales had been delightful!

I only wish this is what the al pastor meat spit looked like! Thank you image search.

Chorizo goodness

No nopales but this is some of the glory I could have consumed.

I once again proved why I will never become a professional blogger as I didn’t take pictures of this meal or the venue or anything even remarkable about the evening. I blame it on the fact that my phone was almost dead and it was dark out.

There was no house salsa given with the meal which was sort of disappointing as I always want a little kick with my snacks and have found that home made salsas tend to be the most unique. There was Cholula on the table however which is always mighty fine. When I found out the meats were mixed on the taco I was a little afraid that the two flavors would get muddled or that the typically strong sausage flavor of the chorizo might over power the al pastor. This was absolutely not the case. The two meats complimented each other quite well and I scarfed those tacos down in no time. The al pastor was flavorful, tender, and fresh. The only fault I can find is perhaps it was missing the fruity flavor of the pineapple that typically comes with al pastor. The chorizo was savory, not overly greasy, and had a good fine crumble. While the taco was very rich, I can imagine that the nopales would have brightened this taco up a bit. The beans and rice that came as a side were pretty forgettable. But because the tacos were good I can forgive them for this.

I grant Pancho Villa a solid 4 out of 5. A nice, slightly Americanized, Mexican spot with good menu variety, a full bar, and good food!

Taco count: 210-213

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Taco Review: Nico’s Taco and Tequila Bar

I happen to be a fan of traditional Mexican tacos so deciding to eat at Nico’s Taco and Tequila Bar was a decision based more off of where would be a nice place to sit down with some friends and enjoy the evening on a patio rather than excitement about the menu. Many hole-in-the-wall authentic places just didn’t have the ambiance or drink selection I was desiring for this night. I had my stigmas about this place just based on the name and location but since it was recommended by a reader I figured I’d give it a try. So to uptown I went!

(Note: image taken from heavytable.com because I am terrible at taking photos of the outsides of establishments)

Having gotten there quite a bit earlier than my dinner companions, I ventured upstairs and found the bar. The special drink of the night happened to be a margarita with tequila that was infused with blackberries and vanilla. Aptly named the “Vanilla Ice Ice Baby!” It was delicious! It was not overly sweet and the vanilla really mellowed out the tequila, which is good for me since I don’t care for tequila.

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The bartender and part creator of specialty cocktails working his magic. See magic below.

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The “Ice Ice Baby” Margarita. I’ll take 2 please!

My guests arrived by the time I finished my first drink. I got them acquainted with the bar menu then headed outside to the patio for dinner. Avid Tacopalooza2015 readers remember Jennina and her ridiculous amount of taco eating from this post. I was also accompanied by her husband Shane and my friend Truk.

Our table shared in some guacamole, made fresh to order for each table. I took delight in the lengua, carne asada, and nopales tacos with a side of rice and beans. This was my first time encountering nopales on a menu so I was not about to miss an opportunity for something new! For those of you unfamiliar with nopales, it’s the paddle of the cactus which have been sauteed or grilled. Remember earlier when I said I had reservations about this place, throw all of those doubts out the window. Everything was sensational! The lengua was impressive. Diced not shredded (never get shredded!) and having just the right amount of chew. The carne asada was tender but would have been better with a red guaillo type salsa rather than the spicy tomatillo based one that I got, but that could easily be remedied by asking for their medium or mild salsa rather than the hot (which wasn’t all that hot but still good flavor). I think the next time I visit Nico’s I will ask for all of the salsas on the side to give them a try. I saved the nopales for last. As I said, this was my first time having cactus but I think Nico’s were first rate! Cooked and soft but still retaining a pleasant crunch. The garnishes used helped emphasize the mild flavor of the cactus. The rice was pretty typical but the beans, we all agreed, were great! Not exactly sure what all the seasonings were but I want these beans again! I wish they served you double the amount.

(Again, not my photo. Thank you heavytable.com. There is this thing where my phone takes real shoddy pictures when the flash is on and believe it or not, you need a flash to take a picture of tacos at night)

(While I’m at picture stealing on Google, here is another one from heavytable.com of the fresh guacamole, although I don’t agree with this guy’s opinion on the nosh)

All in all, Nico’s Taco and Tequila Bar earns an impressive 5 out of 5! Go here if you want tacos in Uptown! I’m trying to get there again soon!

Taco Count: 159-162