San Antonio is a city full of Tex-Mex restaurants. It seems that you're never more than five minutes from a great Tex-Mex restaurant wherever you are in the city. But amongst all the San Antonio options, it's a local favorite that has fast become my go-to choice- Panchitos on McCoullough.
For me, two things can make or break a Tex-Mex restaurant. The tacos and the margaritas. And on this front, Panchito's delivers.
The Origin Story
Panchito's is owned by Roy and Evelyn Reyes, who opened their first restaurant in 1980 on the Southwest side of San Antonio with the help of Evelyn’s parents, Frank and Lupe Sepulveda helped.
Their hard work and dedication have seen Panchito's become a San Antonio favorite with two locations- one at McCullough and one at Zarzamora. The restaurants are known for being very family-oriented and a fun and affordable night out for families.
My in-laws live close to the McCullough location and regularly order take-out from there. However, when my wife and I are in town, we choose to dine in, and one of those reasons for me is the margaritas! Though if you ask my father-in-law in addition to the margaritas, he will say it's the free chip and dip. Sadly this tradition that used to be common across San Antonio restaurants has been removed.
As regulars, we don't often need to peruse the menu. Within minutes of seating, we order our margaritas and start munching on those free chips and dip. Growing up in Australia, I haven't grown up on hot sauce (much to my wife's chagrin) and can't bear to have it, but my wife and her parents pour hot sauce on their chips like it's a competition to see who can consume the most. I will rely on their opinion on the hot sauce, saying it's "hotter than most sauces in San Antonio."
Way too hot for this poor Aussie.
The margaritas soon come to our table, and you can't criticize the value for money. We enjoy $3 frozen margaritas that require two hands to lift (as you can see in the photo above!)
Being regulars, we don't stray too far from our usual choices. My wife always goes for the cheese enchiladas, which she describes as the "cheesiest." Coming from a cheeseaholic, that means a lot. My mother-in-law likes to go for the enchilada plate, while my father-in-law can't go past his usual beef fajita tacos.
Having not grown up in San Antonio and not dined out on Panchitos regularly over the last thirty years, I do like to mix it up the most. I alternate between the fajita quesadilla plate, the Texan Burrito dinner, and the chicken flautas, all of which are delicious.
I also request (i.e., beg) to get some queso to accompany the chips. This delight was something I had never enjoyed before coming to Texas. Panchito's version is chile con queso with picadillo, guacamole, and pico de gallo all in one bowl! If I could live on this stuff, I would. Though my doctor (and my wife( wouldn't be too happy with that decision.
If we happen to venture to Panchito's on a Thursday or Friday night, they will often have Mexican music, which adds to the atmosphere.
With family in Houston and Dallas, we often make long road trips, and of course, before a long drive, you need to fuel up the car -and yourself. We will often make Panchito's first stop and get some bean and cheese breakfast tacos to eat on the way. There is an extensive breakfast menu, but we always choose the breakfast tacos.
San Antonio community
Panchito's likes to give back to the San Antonio community by providing donations. Their website has information on requesting donations, with preferences being given to local schools, community support non-profit groups, and religious organizations' preference and priority over other organizations.
I have had my fair share of Tex-Mex food in San Antonio and continue to return to Panchito's. If you haven't tried it yet, you should