After wandering around the China Live megaplex last week but not being able to order anything to eat, I was happy to find that Panuchos was still open past midnight a few doors down the block. Panucho's row of counter seats was occupied with los machos of the Mayan phenotype chowing on traditional Yucatan style Mexican food and beer, which I took to be a promising sign.
When a seat opened up at the counter, I ordered the special of the day, lengua taco, $3.75, panucho with cochinita pibil, $4, and agua fresca de piña, $4. The complimentary tortilla chips were fresh and very crisp. The array of salsas (from left to right starting at the top): salsa de jitomate ahumado, salsa de mango, salsa de habanero and salsa verde offered up an interesting sampler across a range of heats, acidity level, fruity sweetness and delectable complexity.
The tender lengua was so tasty with just the right amount of salt and a bit of sear from a turn on the plancha. Dressed nicely with cilantro, white onion and a splash of salsa verde, but the doubled corn tortillas were oddly tough and stiff. I removed one of them, and the remaining single ply was sturdy enough not to break.
Despite missing the promised avocado, the panucho was an excellent rendition. Very crispy with a flavorful stuffing of black beans sandwiched between ground corn, then topped with cochinita pibil, pickled red onions, shredded cabbage, and salsa verde. The shreds of cochinita pibil were juicy and tender but not mushy. The panucho's made with fresh masa, not maseca, for more corn intensity. The departed New Spot in Dogpatch had been my favorite for panuchos, but this surpasses that standard.
Panuchos was doing a brisk take-out business from younger folks who seemed to favor the tofu or vegetable burrito. While I don't doubt that those are good, I hope that late night customers will discover the traditional Mayan flavors to be found here. I can't wait to try the poc chuc.
San Francisco, CA 94133
Phone: (415) 788-7034
Sunday-Wednesday from 11am-midnight
Thursday-Saturday from 11am-3am
Credit cards accepted
More about Panuchos: http://hoodline.com/2016/08/meet-panu...