Monday, January 5, 2015

Poncho's Mexican Restaurant

Poncho's Mexican Restaurant is located in Downtown Vancouver, on Denman and Robson Street. The restaurant is Mexican owned as well as operated, and offers a variety of authentically prepared Latin American cuisine. There are the usual quesadillas, fajitas, enchiladas and burritos, along with meat entrees on the menu. However, we are here for the paella. I do not know of many good restaurants that serve paella anymore, but there is something about Poncho's that lured us in when we walked by.

We arrived on a weekend for dinner and were originally offered a table for two, but we requested for a larger table which was fine with the staff. There was no BS that larger tables are reserved for three people and we did not have to restrict the amount of food we ordered to prevent juggling dishes around, like next door at Simba's Grill.

As for the interior, Poncho's is a squeaky clean restaurant, one where I could not find dust anywhere even if I tried to. The seating arrangements are also comfortably spaced out and not cramped one bit. There are also plates, sombreros and paintings on the wall which add to the homey atmosphere.

Rating: 3.5/5.
After seating, we were presented with a bowl of complimentary tortilla chips and salsa. The salsa tastes very fresh and has a rich tangy tomato flavour, along with a refreshing taste from the cilantro. There are also plenty of spices, a hint of spiciness, and a controlled level of sodium. The highlight is definitely the salsa, but the chips are lightly salted and crunchy.

SOPA AZTECA, "Tortilla chicken soup, cheese, diced avocado and chipotle pepper" ($6.50).
Rating: 3.5/5.
From my past experiences with tortilla soup, the dominate flavour is the tortilla and the broth is not very rich. But in this case, there is a medium rich chicken broth and the soup tastes flavourful. On top of that, mixing the dollop of spices results in more flavour and richness. The soup is full of flavour and not too light one bit.

In addition, there is a good amount of ingredients which include fresh and ripe slices of avocado, tender pieces of shredded chicken, freshly fried strips of tortilla, and rice.

STEAK AND GARLIC PRAWNS, "Beef tenderloin, deliciously marinated in fine spices, served with jumbo garlic prawns, rice and beans" ($15.95).
Rating: 3/5.
Every entree includes a side of rice and beans. The fluffy rice is well cooked, tastefully seasoned and soft, but not mushy. Following, the creamy beans taste rich and have that natural saltiness from the cheese.

Moving towards the tenderloin, the beef is not juicy because the meat is prepared and executed differently than a steak. The tenderloin is lightly marinated and not salty one bit, while also tasting tender.

Moreover, the beef is topped with a tomato sauce which has a hint of tang. The sauce is mildly spiced and there are bursts of juiciness from some of the small chunks of tomato.

As for the jumbo garlic prawns, the size is more like regular prawns… But regardless, the prawns are just cooked and buttery. There are some mild spices along with a light char flavour, but are not too garlicky despite the name (which we were fine with).

Rating: 3.5/5.
Earlier on when ordering, we asked if the kitchen could send out the beef tenderloin before the paella to prevent us from rushing. But we finished the tenderloin faster than we thought, so decided to order more salsa and chips. There is a charge for a second round, but the price is reasonable.

PAELLA FOR TWO, "Jumbo prawns, chicken, cod fillet, chorizo, mussels and clams. Cooked with rice and traditional spices" ($34.94).
Rating: 3.5/5.
When the paella arrived, it must have been sitting in the kitchen for a while because it was warm rather than hot. But regardless, the paella is presented authentically in a shallow paellara pan. This order is prepared for two people but Poncho's can prepare a paella for three, or even for only one person. This is worth mentioning because I do not know of any restaurants that would make paella for only one.

The paella includes chorizo, cuts of chicken breast, cod, clams, mussels and prawns. And because of the ingredients along with a great stock, saffron and paprika, the well cooked rice tastes rich and full of flavour. The grains absorb all the juices along with the aroma, and I especially like how the rice remained fluffy and was not even a touch mushy. If anything, some may argue that the bottom layer of the rice lacks that caramelization and is not stuck onto the pan, but we did not mind.

As for the ingredients, the chorizo tastes tender, flavourful and full of spices. The chorizo also tastes housemade and exhibits a hint of spiciness, but does taste dry because the paella was warm instead of hot. The fish on the other hand, is just cooked and tastes very moist along with flaky, while the chicken is tender but also on the drier side because it is white meat. Moreover, the mussels and prawns taste overcooked and dry, but the flavours are fused together with the rice. The clams however, taste juicy and were not overcooked. The highlight for me is definitely the rice and regardless of the dry ingredients, Poncho's makes a good paella.

TOTAL: $61.50 + TIP $8.50 = $70.00.

Poncho's Mexican Restaurant is worth trying in my opinion, especially their paella. And having said that, there are other dishes I want to try and will revisit for sure. When we received the bill, we were also presented with a couple of coupons for free nachos and chocolate mints. Obviously I am going to claim the free nachos… LOL. Asides from the food, the service was great. The staff were friendly including the owner. I asked the owner if the chorizo was housemade at the end of dinner and she said it was. The chorizo is also available for purchase too.

- Good paella
- Above average food
- Homey atmosphere
- Friendly owner and staff
- Controlled level of sodium

- Paella was warm instead of hot
- Service was slower when the restaurant got busy

- 10% off for Qooway members (I finally made use of the card for the first time, after hoarding it for almost two years LOL)

Food: 3.5/5
Service: 3.5/5

Poncho's Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...