Best Find: Pancho Villa Mexican Grill

Posted: June 17, 2007

What we like: Mole poblano (chicken in a spicy brown sauce), and queso fundido with chorizo (melted cheese with spicy sausage).

What it offers: Customers who sit down for a taste of the Mexican food at Pancho Villa Mexican Grill won't find the kind of Americanized cuisine that translates into a crunchy taco.

This bright and cheery restaurant specializes in "authentic" Mexican food, owner Luis Marin said. That means no taco salad with a glop of sour cream on top. What it does mean is comforting, spicy and flavorful cuisine served in a setting named for a Mexican revolutionary and folk hero.

The restaurant's appetizers include addictive rejones ahogados: small corn tortillas filled with spicy chicken and topped with sour cream, green and red hot sauce, queso fresco and cilantro.

The queso fundido (melted chihuahua cheese) with bits of sauteed chorizo sausage wrapped in a flour tortilla was a warm and comforting bite. Mole poblano was a tender chicken breast tasty in its own right, and enhanced by the addition of a mole sauce.

The meal came with two kinds of rice and black beans served tender and whole in a light broth, not smashed beyond recognition.

Special specialties: The restaurant, which started as a take-out spot, is known for its rotating menu of daily specials. One night it might be ahi tuna; another, red snapper. The Quakertown grill also serves filete toluca, a center cut filet mignon topped with chorizo and covered lightly with chihuahua cheese. The dish has won cooking competitions in New York.

Background: Marin emigrated from Mexico in the early 1990s and took over a pizza shop in Chalfont. For a while, he served Italian and Mexican food.

When Marin's father moved to the United States, he encouraged his son to focus only on Mexican cuisine. When his mother arrived, she brought the recipes and cooking lessons that helped carry out the father's wish.

"It was rough in the beginning," Marin said, "People were used to the Taco Bell and Chi-Chi's, but we stuck to our guns and kept it authentic."

Today, Marin, his wife, Marion, and their family operate four restaurants in addition to the one in Quakertown: Los Sarapes Authentic Mexican Restaurant in Chalfont, Los Sarapes Horsham, El Sarape Authentic Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar in Blue Bell, and Cilantro Restaurant in Salem, Mass.

Where: 219 W. Broad St., Quakertown; 215-529-0998 or 215-529-0985.

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday.

- Kristin E. Holmes

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