Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rising From the Dirt

Panchos is one of those quirky places that has changed and evolved over time using the same base structure. I grew up eating at a location in my town, but several years ago the building caught fire. The owners apparently didn't think it was worthwhile to repair or rebuild, so they closed permanently. Its a shame too as the restaurant has a different flavor than most other local Mexican or tex-mex blends. Their cheese dip, hot dip and house dressing are popular enough local grocery stores sell it packaged. My own favorite dish is called Shrimp Veracruz and is a mixture of seasoned rice and cheese topped with grilled seasoned shrimp and more cheese. While the locations across the river in Memphis are strikingly more upscale, the Arkansas location has an interesting character. Its a bit of a dive but not unclean. Its not a place I'd stop without knowing its safe and good; its not in a swanky retail district. I've been told that the dirt floor was finally tiled over in recent times (I'm not making this up, really.)

My rating: 4 stars
Pros: unique tasting Mexican cuisine, oh and that fantastic dip.
Cons: the location in west Memphis is in an armpit of an area. The location in downtown Memphis requires parking and walking, usually a block or so. I'm not accustomed to having to do that so its a strike against it in my book.

Also to note: this is not the same restaurant chain found in southern Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana. That one is a buffet. Its ok, somewhat bland and nowhere nearly as flavorful as the group based in Memphis.

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