Ponchito’s opens in Eastwood

Ponchito’s is not a Mexican restaurant. But it serves food you may think of as Mexican. Call it “roadside Latin American,” call it “that taco joint,” call it Mexican if you want, but whatever you call it, you’ll think of it as fresh, delicious food reasonably priced.

We’ve been waiting for great, simple Mexican food to make the scene in Syracuse, well, just about forever. Some places have come close. But we think Ponchito’s has hit the nail on the head. How can you tell the difference? Walk into any Mexican restaurant and just stand there and sniff. Can you… mmm!… smell the food? Does the smell make your mouth water? If it does, then you have a shot at getting real food, not something that came in a plastic package that was opened, thrown on a plate and microwaved. Well, it smells great at Ponchito’s.

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This is not fine dining, folks, so forget looking for one of those 25-ingredient mole sauces. It’s down-home, classic roadside food made the way they make it in Latin America: with chicken that comes directly from a chicken, beef that’s stewed up in the shop, and a fresh salsa you can tell was chopped up just a few hours ago. Sit at the right table and you can watch Ponchito stir the simmering meat pot or fry up some corn tortillas.

Ponchito’s is primarily a take-out joint, with counter service only, but there are enough tables to handle a small crowd. We topped off our meal of two tacos and a huge super burrito with a couple of delicious Goya sodas. We were too full to try the home-made potato chips (papas fritas). Maybe next time. Total bill: under $14.00.

My test of a Mexican restaurant is its guacamole. Did they cheat with added ingredients like low-fat sour cream or, worse, mayonnaise? Was it made in a factory in New Jersey? No way! This is a fresh guac made the way it’s supposed to be made – mostly with avocados. Ponchito is catering to gringo tastes, so it’s not spicy-hot. No matter – you could ask for some extra jalapeños to be chopped up and mixed in.

To top it all off, they’re open until late during the week (11:00 pm) and really late on the weekends – 3:00 in the morning! At last! Somewhere we can get nourishing, tasty food after the dancing is done. This place is not difficult to find, and once you’ve found it, you’ll find yourself wanting to return again and again.

Dave Chu’s Alternative Dining review (scroll down)

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