There is absolutely no restaurant that I have been going to longer than Pancho’s Restaurant in Manhattan Beach. When I have out of town guests, Pancho’s is my “go to” place. I was kind of surprised when I saw that my girlfriend had named Pancho’s as her favorite restaurant on one of those Facebook quizzes, since she lives in another state and had only been there two or three times.

The first time I went to Pancho’s was in 1971 or 1972. It was a small hole-in-the-wall joint with a Chinese decor. Apparently they had recently purchased the building and it was a Chinese restaurant before the new owner took over. A few years later they bulldozed the place down, dug a big hole in the sand and made it a two story affair. As you can tell from the photos they really did it up right when they re-opened. Huge, beautiful greenery makes it pretty much impossible to not become one with the environment.

I suspect I have eaten at Pancho’s well over 100 times. Most of the waiters have been there for more than 25 years. I have never left there unsatisfied, although I will admit, I do tend to shy away from the standard combination plates. I can go to Taco Bell if I want a bean and cheese burrito. Any of their “del Mar” dishes are great. The spinach enchiladas are melt in your mouth yummy if looking for a relatively light meal, because they do give you a lot of food.

The best thing about their chips and salsa is that the salsa is just the way I like it. Hot. To me, a salsa should make you sweat under your eyes, and this does the trick. Their Cadillac Margaritas are a little pricey, but if you skip the additional shot of Grand Marnier the price drops and the Margarita still packs a punch. The best kept secret is their Queso Fundido. It is a melted mixture of four different cheeses with artichoke hearts and slices of jalapeno. What is really nice about it is that it may even be better the next day. It is the only dish that I have driven the 12 miles round trip just to get a “to go” order of. It really is that good.

I have read reviews on Yelp and seen the people whining about the cost. I suspect that a fast food joint would probably be better suited to them. Pancho’s provides a great atmosphere, great service and fantastic food. I take pride in the establishments I take my friends to, and Pancho’s has never let me down in the 35+ years I have been coming there. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to try some excellent Mexican food. Muy bien.


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