Tucked away in Glasgow’s Merchant City is Pancho Villas, a buzzing Mexican restaurant. Situated in Bell Street across from the bars and restaurants of Merchants Court this restaurant holds its own with a lively atmosphere, great frozen margaritas and some sizzling Mexican food.
It is always best to book ahead particularly at the weekend when it can get very busy. The restaurant has two levels – street level and the basement, if you can I would ask for a table on the street level it is much airier and more spacious.
I have visited Panchos on many occasions it’s a great place for big groups as it has a good atmosphere and is not a quiet restaurant.
The owner is Mexican born Maya NuAtez who has brought to Pancho Villas her home cooked Mexican food.
The menu is fairly extensive starters include soup, quesadillas, nachos and taquitos among other things, starting from £3.75 up to £9.95 for a combination sharing plate. My favourite is the chilli con carne nachos with sour cream, just the right amount of spice and cheese.
Vegetarians are catered for with a selection of starters and four main courses including a Quesadilla, Fajitas and Enchiladas. The main course selection includes everyone’s favourite Mexican dishes including Burritos, Tacos, Chilli, Enchiladas of every variety (including cracked crab and various chicken styles), Quesadillas, Steak, Lamb, Salads and the perennial favourite fajitas either with chicken, steak, king prawn or a combination. I have to admit my dish of choice is the chicken fajita which always comes sizziling to the table with a good portion of chicken, peppers and onions. Sometimes the accompaniments can be a little lacking and I've had to ask for more guacamole and tortillas. Friends of mine had the spiced meatballs which they said was really spicy, the only thing missing from the menu is wee chillis to mark how spicy the dishes are for the more sensitive palates.
I’ll be honest I don’t think I have ever had a dessert in Pancho’s as I am always so stuffed after my starter and main although I do make sure that I always have room for their frozen strawberry margeritas, which are particularly drinkable!
The cocktail list favours Mexican and holiday specialties and offer an extensive range of normal and frozen margaritas either by the glass or pitcher. They also have a good range of Mexican style beers and tequila as well as your normal drinks and are always good at bring pitchers of tap water to the table too.
I would recommend Pancho Villas for a friendly tasty and buzzy Mexican it also is fairly reasonable and makes for a good night out.
I have to say I have a soft spot for Panchos they are consistently good and the cocktails are pretty darn great – what more could you ask for!
The Glasgow restaurant can be found at Bell Street, they also have an Edinburgh outpost which can be found at Canongate, the Royal Mile.
I have visited Pancho Villa's at least 20 times. The reason for my return is simply that you would struggle to find better Mexican fare anywhere. I have never been into Pancho Villa's when it has been anything other than busy and lively. it is certainly a popular restaurant.
On arrival you get complimentary nachos and salsa which are a good snack to eat while you are making your mind up about what to have. The menu is extensive without being overwhelming and there are the usual fajitas and enchiladas to choose from as well as tacos and similar family favourites.
Many dishes are served with a side of re-fried beans and a side of savoury rice, both lovely accompaniments. The meat used in the dishes are excellent quality and extremely tasty. The mexican spices are not too overpowering and there is a really nice smell throughout the restaurant and a really welcoming environment.
The prices are pretty reasonable. Choose from the set menu, a 2 course lunch at £8.50 or a pre-theatre from £12-£14.50. Alternatively, choose a dish from the al a carte menu.
Wash your meal down with an authentic Mexican iced cocktail.
Pancho Villa's NEVER fails to put a smile on my face. I often go with a group of friends and we have yet to be disappointed with the place. I would rate this restaurant 10/10 without a doubt. The service is second to none and the staff are really friendly and welcoming.
Oh, and the last time we were there, we each got a ridiculous sombrero to wear - a bit of light hearted banter if nothing else!
Pancho Villa restaurants are located in Edinburgh and Glasgow. I have only visited the Glasgow restaurant so this is the one I shall be reviewing.
Located in the heart of the merchant city area the restaurant is in a great location with a lot of competing restaurants surrounding it. You have to be a quality establishment to last around here. As this is probably the poshest area of the city expect higher than average prices!!
Pancho Villas is owned by a Mexican women who wants to provide "a revoluntionary taste of Mexico to Scotland" - I don't think she quite manages this but the restaurant is good.
The restaurant is blus outside and you can't miss it, located directly opposite Merchant Square. It is one of the only Mexicans in Glasgow and so this is one of the reasons you find yourself going back despite it not being amazing!
On arrival at the restaurant you are given a small order of tortilla chips and salsa free of charge, they are quite tasty but not the freshest tasting.
There is the usual choice of enchiladas, buritos, quesadiilias and fajhitas amongst others. I thoroughly reccommend the Cracked Crab enchiladas as they are a bit unusual but taste great!!
The fajhitas on the other hand are a dissappointment at £13 and being served with no salad or cheese. Like the other reviewer for this restaurant I would reccommend TGIs just down the road if it's fajhitas you fancy as you will get all the extras and more of the meat and veg for only £1 more! The food in Pancho Villas is quite nice overall but I don't think you really get value for money here.
The drinks are reasonably priced and include the classic Margarita selection.
The restaurant is relatively busy as there are ususally good deals to be found such as the just finished 2 courses for £10 which is pretty good. I reccommend the restuarant if you fancy mexican (but not fajhitas) and are in the area as there are not many alternatives. Although slightly expensive good deals can be had!
Growing up in America, one of the most popular cuisines is Mexican or Tex/Mex food; therefore I have always been spoiled for choice. Since moving to Glasgow I have been on a continuous search for great Mexican food. When my husband told me that Pancho Villa's was highly recommended to him by a friend, I was really excited to try out the restaurant. However, I am sorry to report my husband and I both thought it was the worst food we've ever tasted. Pancho Villa's claim their restaurant is "A revolutionary taste of Mexico in Scotland." Having tried authentic Mexican food I can honestly tell you that this claim could not be further from the truth! If you are looking for good Mexican food you would have a much more enjoyable experience going to TGI Fridays on Buchanan Street near the Central Station.
This unfortunate experience began with my husband and I walking to the Merchant City in search of Pancho Villa's. The restaurant has a bright blue exterior with Pancho Villa's in gold lettering, so in terms of location it is pretty easy to get to on foot and easy to spot.
Looking at the interior of the restaurant it's pretty tacky. It's like the owners did not really put any thought into the interior and just plastered the walls with cliché Mexican photos and ponchos. Also the music in the place should have been the first sign that this was not an authentic Mexican restaurant in the slightest. The CD playing was cliché Hispanic singers such as Ricky Martin, Enrique Ingelias, Jennifer Lopez ect. It all just felt a bit patronizing since none of these singers are even Mexican.
The hostess came over to the table to take our drink orders and bring us some tortilla chips and salsa. The chips were stale, but at this point I was starving and I figured it's free so I'm not going to complain. The waitress, who really didn't seem that interested, came back to take our orders. I ordered the Burrito with chicken, which was described as: a flour tortilla filled with shredded spicy chicken or beef, served with salsa and sour cream on a bed of rice with salad. My husband ordered the same Mexican dish he's been ordering for the last 3 years, chicken Quesadillas. Quesadillas were described as: flour tortilla filled with spicy chicken, beef or pork topped with salsa, guacamole and sour cream on a bed of rice with salad.
It all sounds very appetizing right? WRONG!
Both dishes were terrible and they should be ashamed to call this food Mexican. When the food arrived the portions were tiny and the food was somehow bland while being extremely spicy. It was as though no seasoning was put into the food while it was cooking to give it a rich, deep flavor. Instead the food tasted like the chef dumped a load of cayenne pepper onto the food at the very end. The food was so bad we took about two bites of our food and asked for the bill. What makes the experience even worse is that the food is expensive! For the burrito I ordered it was about £11 and my husband's quesadillas were £12! We left the restaurant hungry and vowing never, ever to return.
(also posted on trustedplaces.com)