I’ve always considered Mexican food to be the perfect pick-me-up. Maybe it’s the merry crunch of nachos, or the vibrant salsa, the indulgent cheese, or the heat and the all-round freshness of the cuisine. It hits the spot every time, but sadly, the city has very few favourites for a fun fiesta.
After a recent lunch at Sancho’s, I think it’s safe to say a game-changer has arrived.
P and I walked in for a late lunch on Sunday. The fact the place was filled to near-capacity at 4pm was our first clue this place was worth the hype (a couple of friends from Mumbai swear by its sister in Khar). You can choose between tables on the deck, or a rustic space inside ─ earthy accents, pottery, chandeliers and all.
We would have loved a table on the deck, but since the restaurant was full to bursting, we settled for a table for two inside. The view is still pretty good though, but you better book ahead if you want to soak up some Vitamin D.
Sancho’s serves the best of both worlds ─ a mix of Tex-Mex and the real deal. We started our meal with the Fiesta Nachos, not the most adventurous of choices, but a good one. The tortillas the nachos are made of are imported from Mexico, and come to the table absolutely LOADED with refried beans, guacamole, sour cream and salsa. The thing with refried beans is, if done wrong, they can look (and taste!) like brown, gloopy mush, but at Sancho’s, they’re just right.
Next up were the Fish Taquitos ─ mini tortillas topped with beer-battered fish, chipotle mayonnaise, roasted tomato salsa and guacamole. We loved the play between different flavours and textures in the dish; the crunchy fish against the soft tortilla, the cool guacamole against the fiery salsa…. a definite winner, this one!
It’s a great setting ─ a lazy breeze, the sun playing hide-and-seek with the clouds, the frou-frou backdrop of UB City ─ just the kind that makes you want to grab the bar menu and choose a heady concoction. There are plenty of margaritas to choose from (no surprises there!) and some interesting sparkling cocktails as well. I chose the Tequila Veracruz, made with tequila, white rum and a hint of coconut, while P opted for the Costa Maya, a potion of sparkling wine, fresh orange juice and green apple syrup. She enjoyed hers, while thumbs up to mine for making me feel like I was on holiday!
(Bartender: May we serve your drink with a side of sun-drenched beach and true-blue ocean? Me: Yes, please!)
Well, I soon found out that my drink would serve a purpose way more practical than day dreaming. The next dish on our table was Habanero Chicken. We were told that the spice level of the notorious chilli (second only to the scarily spicy Bhut Jolokia on the Scoville scale) was cut down by mixing it with ketchup. But a few more, no, WAY more dollops would help, because this dish is S.P.I.C.Y. P flat-out refused to take a bite, and while I pride myself on my spice threshold, I nearly downed said drink in one go in an attempt to calm my screaming palate down.
The Vegetable Chimichangas were very nice, but confusing to the waistline. You know you’re eating something deep-fried, but all those fresh veggies balance it out. Next up were the Chorizo Molletitos – the Mexican bruschetta if you will. These came topped with zingy home-made chorizo and melted cheese. A dish that left pork-loving P and I very happy!
The Chicken Quesadilla is another cracker of a dish ─ cheesy, spicy and served with that wonderful roasted tomato salsa. A safe option, but those more adventurous can try the Mexican Chocolate and Chilli Taquito. The sweetness and the heat balance each other out, but there’s something about the chicken that’s not quite right – a tad too stringy, we thought. But if you’re the experimental kind, go for it.
By now it was time to explore the main course. We started with the Caldo De Pollo, a chicken soup made with 24 different ingredients, and pleasant enough. Next up was the one of the specials, Talla Fish, a traditional recipe imported from the south of Acapulco. It calls for a filet of fresh fish to be coated in mayonnaise and guajillo chilli, placed on a banana leaf and baked. It’s a meal by itself, served with a tortilla, refried beans (yum!), guacamole, Mexican rice, salsa and a salad. Did I love it? Not really, the chilli paste tasted a little too raw to me, but it was improved by a little bit of lettuce to balance it out.
The Vegetarian Alambres though, did not fail to impress. We were presented with skewered paneer, peppers, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes slathered in chipotle sauce and served over rice with corn on the side. This could very well be my new favourite meat-free dish in the city. The paneer is truly to die for, white and super soft. With the spicy sauce and the rice, it’s a definite mouth-gasmic experience. Fellow carnivores, I implore you to give this a try.
The last dish we sampled that day was the Lamb Barbacoa ─ shredded braised lamb in guajillo chilli base. The taste is familiar, very close to home, which promptly launched a discussion about food history and how some flavours are more universal that one would suspect. A good dish, and one I would go back for.
More than one foodie has waxed lyrical about the churros served here, but we choose the Tres Leches for dessert, and the only thing we regretted about our decision was the fact by now, we were too full to finish the generous portion. This traditional dessert (the name translates to ‘three milk’ in Spanish) is made of a sponge cake soaked in three types of milk. It’s wonderfully airy, instead of the soggy mess one would expect from a ‘soaked’ cake. This is one dish my sweet tooth won’t tire of.
And hey, what review of a Mexican place is complete without some Margarita? I tried the classic here ─ well-mixed, pleasant and refreshing. Very much like Sancho’s itself, come to think of it!