Growing up 20 minutes from the Mexican border in San Diego, USA, I spent my youth awash in the beautiful simplicity of Tex-Mex cuisine — fresh guacamole, sizzling fajitas — and, yes, tequila. I could wax poetic for hours on the pure joy found in a breakfast burrito. Tragically, it was one of the most difficult sacrifices I made when I left my childhood home behind, because — aside from the chefs in Texas, San Diego, and Mexico — no one in the world can make good Mexican food. No one. That is why the owners of Sancho’s have struck gold: Jorge A. Romero, born in Mexico, raised in Texas, and now transplanted to New Delhi, has done the unthinkable — made good Mexican food available in India.
The good stuff
It seems so simple: fresh, chopped tomatoes, some real, creamy sour cream, a bit of tomatillo sauce, flour tortillas, grilled chicken — the food doesn’t require bizarre ingredients or elaborate cooking methods. But so few people get the delicate mix right — slightly sweet, mostly spicy and slight tangy delicious-ness.
We started with chips and guacamole and the salsa sampler. The chips were a little stale, probably from sitting out at the salsa bar in the summer humidity, but the salsa sampler, with eight different flavours, was a great way to start. Our burritos were a great balance of refried beans, rice, chicken and vegetables. The pulled chicken in the tacos had just the right amount of kick to it. And the bartender even got the classic margarita right (a word of caution: A “house” margarita at most other restaurants is a classic blend of tequila, Triple Sec and lime juice; at Sancho’s, it is actually a melon liquor disaster. So make sure you ask for the “classic” magarita, not the “house”).
The drinks menu had some drinks that were a bit too experimental (such as the aforementioned House Margarita), but they got it right with the watermelon mojito, a fresh blend of chunky watermelon and mint. We wound up with a free dessert sampler, thanks to a bungled order (see The not-so-good), and the desserts were also sublime. I refused to share the flan with anyone, and the churros drizzled in chocolate sauce were divine. The portions are generous, so when it seemed we couldn’t finish our very spicy chicken wings, the table next to us happily took them off our hands. Food so good, you pass it on to the next table? How often does that happen?
The food is Sancho’s saving grace. Everything else is a complete and utter mess. The silly décor, with its broad generalizations towards all things Mexican, could be forgiven if they dimmed the lights in the bar. The dining area was moodily lit, but the bar was, oddly, bright as day. The menus are massive pieces of wood; so unwieldy we didn’t know what to do with them.
But these complaints are nothing compared to the true problem at Sancho’s: the terrible service. Sure, no restaurant in Delhi has a great wait staff, especially one that has only been open for a month. But this staff bungled everything. The main problem is the usual complaint I have with most restaurants here: quantity over quality. Seven waiters milled around, but no one seemed in control, so no one really knew when to take our order, correct the mistakes made, or check in on us. Four different men took our orders before one drink arrived (we had ordered three). The appetizers arrived at the same time as the entrées. One entrée had to be sent back twice (on their second attempt, they forgot the meat). It was a sloppy, confusing affair. When one of us complained about the order being wrong again, the chef overheard and came to apologize and sent over the free dessert tray. It was a nice touch, but the chef can’t always be there to make amends.
Drinks were around Rs225, appetizers around Rs195 and entrées around Rs275. Overall, it’s a fabulous food experience, and I’ll definitely go back to get my burrito fix. If they would just invest in a little staff training, this place would almost be a home run.