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Restaurants

Pancho Y Emiliano

Posted by Anders Whist / Reviewed on April 30, 2013 / review policy

Pancho Y EmilianoPancho Y Emiliano is the most recent entrant into the crowded Mexican restaurant scene in Kensington. With a Mexican chef and named after two Mexican revolutionary heroes (Villa and Zapata, respectively) it strives for authenticity and happily achieves it.

Pancho Y EmilianoThe pork tamales ($3.75) are the first thing recommended by the friendly and informative server, and they're a strong start. The pork is richly flavoured, and even more important, succulent enough to practically melt in your mouth. The only complaint is that there isn't more of it - the corn masa (dough) surrounding the meat takes up most of the real estate and overpowers the pork. The masa is good, fortunately, so it's a minor complaint at best.

Fish TacoBetter still is the fish taco ($5.75). The gigantic piece of lightly battered and fried white fish is moist and buttery, and slathered in a creamy sauce. It's paired with guacamole, shredded cabbage and a simple salsa fresca of tomatoes, cilantro and onions. The result is outstanding - delicious, simple and fresh, and worth a visit all on its own.

Pancho Y EmilianoThe other tacos on the menu ($5.75 for an order of two) don't reach the same heights, though they also exude an appealing freshness that becomes a running theme for the meal. The beef barbacoa is dense and savoury, almost like beef cheek, but a bit muted, which makes the tortilla the focus of the dish. It's a good tortilla, but that shouldn't really be the lasting takeaway.

Pancho Y EmilianoChicken tinga is a little more exciting: the shredded chicken, cooked with tomatoes and chipotle, is delicate with a pleasing spiciness, and pairs well with its accoutrements. The chicken pibil isn't quite in the same class; the peppery chicken, flecked with onion, is good but not overly notable.

Pancho Y EmilianoThe ceviche tostada ($4.75) also possesses an appealing freshness, fairly important when eating citrus-cooked seafood. It's an intricate pairing of fish, tomato, avocado and lettuce (well, the lettuce is a bit of a filler). A little more fish would go a long way - depending on which bite you got, the avocado predominated - but on the whole the dish worked well.

Pancho Y EmilianoThe enchiladas ($6.75) suffer in comparison. Whereas the other chicken dishes strive to do interesting things with their main ingredient, the chicken here is soft and lifeless, exacerbated by a slightly watery salsa verde. It's a malady that can't be overcome with a healthy sprinkling of cheese and a surprisingly excellent side of beans. The overall result is more indistinct than anything else, and hopefully will improve as kinks are worked out.

Pancho Y EmilianoService is both friendly and efficient, with staff happy to expand on the menu and the virtues of traditional Mexican cuisine.

Pancho Y EmilianoIt's a pleasant atmosphere - as we were leaving a sampler tray of freshly made miniature strawberry, chocolate and caramel churros ($1.50 regular sized) was headed out to the bustling Kensington street to tempt passers-by.

Pancho Y EmilianoYou can't go wrong with any of them, as like everything else on the menu they were fresh, and not oily or overly sugared (we also got a proper one for the road). Most of the dishes are also available in vegetarian or vegan form as well, which is nice to see. Drinks are limited to Coke and the Mexican pop Jarritos ($1.50). Do yourself a favour and skip the former and go with the tamarind or cola Jarritos.

Pancho Y EmilianoPancho Y EmilianoPhotos by Miranda Whist

Discussion

8 Comments

Alan Dilworth / April 28, 2013 at 11:36 pm
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The fish taco is to die for. Don't miss it.

El / April 29, 2013 at 12:14 pm
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This place is amazing. The tostadas are next level ~
Jose / April 30, 2013 at 12:25 pm
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Finally! A new taco place in Toronto!
Fizz / April 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm
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There are plenty of places in Toronto for authentic Mexican food so why do writers always assume the first one they latch onto is the first authentic one? Many Mexicans living in Canada don't help by constantly saying nothing is authentic here because it does not taste exactly like the specific regional food their mother made, whereas food tastes different all over Mexico.
sean / April 30, 2013 at 11:46 pm
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in mexico,fish tacos are only served in places where the fish was swimming in the ocean that morning.
call me when someone opens an authentic taqueria with tacos al pastor grilled on a trompo marinated in pineapple. and don't say 'el trompo' in kensington because those things are as dry as hueso.
Janna / April 30, 2013 at 11:51 pm
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I don't think the corn tortilla tacos are less good, just because it's not what you're used to eat doesn't mean it's not tasty. Maybe it would be great to expand the food knowledge away of the same flour tortilla tacos that are sold in every so called mexican place. The corn tortilla and their own rendition of mexican dishes like barbacoa or tinga reminds me of that traditional flavor I miss from Mexico (and I'm in not talking about my grandma's seasoning or some specific place). The tamales are just like they should be, I would recommend that if you think it's too much masa maybe you can spice it up with some salsa that gives that extra flavor.
Overall I think it's a great place to eat and there you can learn more about Mexico and it's traditional cuisine.
Congrats on the opening.
Kumar OMalley / May 2, 2013 at 01:50 pm
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Kenzie is SO ethnic - it's to DIE for! Other people's cultures make the perfect backdrop for today's sophisticated urban lifestyle and can, if done right, have a positive effect on property values. Ole!
Al / July 19, 2013 at 01:54 pm
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If you're looking for an authentic mexican experience check out Rebozos just off College and Bathurst. Best mexican ive tried in the city. the al pastor with pineapple, carnitas and chorizo are to die for!!!

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