The Dish

Sweet and spicy tacos al pastor


Delicious, cheap and fast — at Pancho’s Taqueria, you don’t have to pick just two. The brick-and-mortar location on Elmwood Road was my DoorDash standby during the pandemic, and, now that the world has reopened, we’ve continued to see each other in person.

Pancho’s is a great place to dine alone, as I often do after running errands in that region of Saginaw Highway. The restaurant goes above and beyond the typical taqueria offerings, with food that’s consistently fresh, flavorful and not overly fried. I paid just under $15 for a variety of a la carte offerings and a fresh-squeezed drink. A typical diner could order a soda ($2.50) and a dinner plate ($10.99) for about the same price, plus tip.

Although I’m usually out in my leggings and Crocs, I imagine Pancho’s would be a great place to take a casual date. I’m always surprised by how quickly the food comes out, and you could easily spend your time talking about salsas instead of working to fill that awkward space between ordering and eating. It’s also a great place to take parents and other cheap family members since you can pick up the tab without too much stress and everyone is sure to find something familiar to enjoy.

If you’re deciding between drinks, I recommend you go for the limeade. This $3 beverage has recently become a regular addition to my order. It’s perfectly sweet, sour, ice-cold and nearly addictive.

Every meal begins with free salsa and tortilla chips that are fried and crispy but not greasy. The salsa starts sweet, almost like squash, but the heat is right around the corner. After a few bites, the cilantro and onion move to the forefront.

For the main dish, I ordered tacos al pastor with cilantro and onion, and they came bursting with just enough citrusy grease. The pork fat is just a little chewy — but not more than the tortillas. Adding a dab of both the hot-red and mild-green salsas will season your taco to perfection. The marinated pork is always sweet and hot, and I think the pineapple flavor is less sharp now, which I prefer.

Something I really value about Pancho’s is its consistency, both in high-quality food and friendly service. I’ve been dining there regularly for years now, and aside from the occasional misplaced side or forgotten avocado slice, the experience has always been exceptional. It’s clear the owners have worked hard, and I would argue they’ve succeeded in creating a positive dining experience you can rely on.


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