Going to Laguna is always a treat. Its not that far from Manila – just around a 2 hour drive and you can find yourself in so much nature. I bet it would take longer to get from Makati to QC on some days than it is to go down South for a much-needed breather.
Laguna abounds with nature trips. Around the Pagsanjan area, there are waterfalls, the Caliraya lake, Lumban where all the very Filipino barongs and pinya gowns are made and a whole lot of cuisine to choose from nestled in the old houses of the area.
One notable restaurant in the area is El Panchito’s. Not very far from the famous old arch in Pagsanjan, it’s a charming place that serves Fil-Mexican cuisime that will delight your cravings for some real good food on your next road trip to this area.
This is the kind of hidden secret that you’ll want to take a good stop on for lunch, snacks or dinner. The facade is very homey because it is actually a home converted into a restaurant.
Once you enter, you’ll know you’re in for some real Mexican treats with the colors and details set up around the place.
The owners Jymsee and Kit Zaguirre just opened El Panchito’s last year, but through word of mouth, it has already become a favorite spot for both locals and travelers in the area. We definitely had to go in and check out why.
Nachos Bravas (Php190)
Well, for starters, the Nachos Bravas taste really good and is not as dry as some nacho dishes tend to be. The jalapenos are huge, too. House fried multi-colored tortilla chips, drizzled with cheese sauce and crema, topped with mozarella cheese, cheddar cheese, signature picadillo and jalapeno. Served with house salsa.
Fresh Garden Salad (Php190) / Fresh Cucumber Juice (Php70)
The Fresh Garden Salad is a good starter. Pair it up with some Fresh Cucumber Juice (Php 70) to refresh yourself on a hot day.
Chicken Kesodilla (Php140)
The Chicken Kesodilla is a pretty straightforward Mexican dish that you can’t go without when you’re at El Panchito’s.
Pepperoni-Picadillo and Chicken Pesto (Php190)
Their Pizaadillas are very note-worthy, too. The Pepperoni-Picadillo and Chicken Pesto pack a lot of flavour in pizza form, which everyone loves. Everything is freshly made upon ordering, so you can be guaranteed of maximized taste in every bite.
Sisig Taco (Php80)
There are some very Filipino flavours that can be found in El Panchito’s, as well, like the Sisig Taco, which has all of that all-time comfort meat on top of a soft taco shell.
Mexican BBQ Ribs (Php220)
For the main courses or what they call El Plato Principal, the bestseller would definitely be the Mexican BBQ Ribs. It basically consists of pork ribs rubbed in fresh Mexican spices with sweet and smoky BBQ sauce. Served with Mexican rice, buttered corn and pickled cucumber. I know good ribs when I taste them and this dish is definitely a winner!
Anticuchos de Pollo (Php200)
Of you’re looking for some chicken, the Anticuchos de Pollo can really grab a hold of you. It has marinated grilled chicken seasoned with fresh Mexican spices. Also served with Mexican rice, buttered corn and pickled cucumber with crema on the side.
All these are great with their Blue Lemonade, Citrus Green Tea or House Blend Read Tea – all at 40 pesos!
Dark Chocolate Frappe (Php180)
A Dark Chocolate Frappe is also available in case you’re craving for something even colder.
Did I hear you say dessert? That’s just perfect because they have Churros warm and soft to the bite…
Brownie Caliente Con Helado (Php190)
…and the Brownie Caliente Con Helado, which consists of hot brownies with ice cream on it and milk poured on it right before your eyes. Such a treat to see all that sizzling sweetness in front of you.
El Panchito’s also serves the famous Aling Taleng’s halo halo (only the best halo halo in town since 1933). That’s because the owners are the grandchildren of Aling Taleng.
Oh and you know what else is fun? Wearing Mexican hats (they have lots of them) and having your photo taken in them!
While we were there, we kept hearing a bell. Apparently, satisfied customers give it a clang before going out if they feel the food and service are good.
When in Laguna, perhaps it’s your turn to give El Panchito’s a try and ring that bell!