Sunday, 30 April 2017

Restaurant Review: El Panchito's Fil-Mexicano Resto (Pagsanjan, Laguna)

El Panchito's Fil-Mexicano Resto

It was already past noon when Jandy, Joy, Desiree, Ann, Jessica and I arrived in Pagsanjan and, after meeting up with retired Municipal Tourism Officer Mr. Ramon “Mon” Cabela at the town’s Spanish-era Arch of Guadalupe, asked him on where to delight our craving for some real good food. 

Mon recommended El Panchito's Fil-Mexicano Resto, a restaurant offering Mexican street food favorites with a Filipino twist.  We followed him as he drove his motorcycle.
The dining area

Owned by the husband and wife team of Kit Delos Santos Zaguirre  (the grandson of the woman behind the iconic Aling Taleng's Halo-Halo, the best halo halo in town since 1933) and Jymsee Abaquin Zaguirre, this restaurant opened its doors in 2015.  

The restaurant’s facade had a very homey feel, the fact being it is actually a home, not far from the famous old arch, converted into an L-shaped restaurant.  The dining area was formerly the garage.  The premises of this family-friendly restaurant are clean, the ambiance superb and very relaxing, and the atmosphere wholesome and calm.  
Anticuchos de Pollo

Nachos Bravas
In the dining area, we saw guitars, ukuleles, maracas and Mexican hats on display.  Adding to the Mexican feel was the Mexican music being played.  The whole experience was made even greater by the free Wifi!

Then there’s the great food.  For starters (Antojitos/Pampagana in their menu), we ordered a plate of Nachos Bravas (PhP190) - home fried, multi-colored tortilla chips, drizzled with cheese sauce and crema, topped with mozarella cheese, cheddar cheese, signature picadillo and jalapeno and served with house salsa on the side. They tasted really good, not as dry as some nacho dishes I’ve tasted before, and the  jalapenos were huge.

El Cerdo Fritos
Their main dishes (El Plato Principal/Ulam in their menu) really grabbed a hold of us - Anticuchos de Pollo (PhP200, marinated grilled chicken seasoned with fresh Mexican spices, and served with Mexican rice, buttered corn and pickled cucumber with crema on the side) for Desiree; the El Cerdo BBQ (PhP150, grilled pork liempo in sweet BBQ sauce, with coleslaw and corn, and served with plain rice) for Joy; Chicken Burger (PhP190, deep-fried chicken fillet with coleslaw, lettuce, nachos, tomatoes and cucumber, served with chips on the side) for my son Jandy; El Cerdo Fritos (PhP130, deep-fried pork liempo with pickled cucumber and corn, drizzled with crema and served with Mexican rice) for me and Jessica; and Sisig Plato (PhP160, signature Filipino-style pork sisig, with chopped hard-boiled egg on top, and served with plain rice) for Ann.

Brownie Caliente Con Helado
El Cerdo BBQ
Finally, there’s the sizzling sweetness of their desserts (Postre/Panghimagas in their menu) - the Brownie Caliente Con Helado (PhP190, hot brownies with ice cream on it and milk poured on it) and the famous Aling Taleng’s halo-halo (PhP90).  We liked the former so much, we ordered a second serving. Adding to our fun was all of us wearing Mexican hats, holding ukuleles and having our photo taken in them.

Through word of mouth, this charming restaurant, no longer a hidden secret, will truly become a favorite watering hole for lunch, snacks or dinner for both locals and travelers in the town. Their food prices were very affordable and the servers were very alert and approachable. A must-try restaurant when in Pagsanjan, Laguna.
All dressed up in Mexican hats with ukuleles. L-R: Ms. Desiree Benitez, Mr. Jandy Layug, Mr. Mon Cabela, the author, Ms. Julie Ann Zafe, Ms. Joy Tenedero and Ms. Jessica Bez

El Panchito's Fil-Mexicano Resto: 661 Mabini St., Poblacion Dos, Pagsanjan, 4008 Laguna. Tel: (049) 250-3849.  Mobile number: (0917) 811-4452.  Open daily, 11:00AM - 10:00PM.  Facebook: Instagram: @elpanchitospagsanjan.

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