Pancho packs a punch

Authentic Mexican food is on the menu in Tel Aviv.

Pancho Bar Y Grill (photo credit: PR)
Pancho Bar Y Grill
(photo credit: PR)
I am generally very skeptical about Mexican restaurants in Tel Aviv because while the flavors are often great, most places seem to fall flat in terms of, well, everything else. Too often, I find that the food is just heavy, greasy, and mushy. Well, not at Pancho Bar Y Grill. And you won’t find another Mexican eatery in the Tchernichovsky/Allenby area that’s as tasteful, as clean and as welcoming as this place. Colorful mural artwork adorns the walls.
With mostly indoor seating and a little outside area, the restaurant is small but full of warmth and animation. As soon as I sat down, I felt at home.
Having made aliya 10 years ago from Austin, Texas, owner/chef Zohar Lyon Kantor had always dreamt of opening her own Tex Mex restaurant. She gets most of her fresh produce daily from the nearby Carmel Market and brings in spices from San Antonio.
To begin with, we ordered some special house margaritas. I opted for the Jalapeño Margarita (NIS 34), which definitely did not disappoint.
It was super strong, as well as spicy. It was a perfect balance of spice-sour-tart-sweet on ice. One of those, and I was feeling A-okay.
Also delightful were the fresh fruit margaritas. I tried a few sips of my friend’s Blood Orange Margarita (NIS 38), and it was phenomenal.
Most importantly, the drinks were the perfect complement for the food.
We began with the Nachos Supreme (NIS 36). The tasty, crisp nachos went perfectly with the medley of gorgeous toppings, which included beans, melted cheese, guacamole and sour cream.
Next up were the enchiladas (NIS 32) – two with chicken and two with chili con carne. Both were delicious. They were soft and hot, which was perfect because that night was very cold and rainy. They had a nice blend of sweet and spicy flavors, and both the chicken and the meat were cooked to perfection.
This was followed by the Bad Ass Burrito Fajita Steak (NIS 49; other burrito options are chicken, chili con carne and vegetables at NIS 39). The pinto beans were delicious – not dried out, not too runny. The rice was perfect – light, not too heavy. And the grilled meat was downright yummy – not overly salted or overly seasoned. It was just a solid burrito all around, and all the components tasted great together.
Last, we tried the Outlaw Chicken Sandwich (NIS 35), which was very tasty. The chicken was perfectly grilled and very juicy.
After a round of Dirty Mojitos (NIS 34), it was on to dessert. We started with the homemade key lime pie (NIS 34), which has already become a signature dish. The pie was heavenly, with just the right amount of tang and rich creamy texture combined. The crust had the perfect amount of sweetness and just melted in my mouth. We then tried Sarah’s Homemade Flan (NIS 24). I’m not even a huge flan person, but I thought this was one of the best flans I’ve had. Not too sweet, with just the right texture you look for in a flan.
This modern, cafe-style Mexican restaurant is small but has a big heart, and the service is outstanding. I’m definitely going back.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Pancho Bar Y Grill
Not kosher
1 Tchernikhovski, Tel Aviv
Tel: 058-726-2461