Pancho Villa Wants You, Gringo!

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How can you resist a Mexican restaurant called Pancho Villa’s Kitchen (1482 Wilcrest, 713-782-3919) that advertises by hiring a couple of hombres to stand on the sidewalk in big straw hats and serapes holding signs?

The restaurant turns out to be a charming little seven-table café with dark wood furniture and lots of pictures of Pancho on the walls. The owner is a Houstonian of French-German-Mexican descent named Jean Pierre. It’s his Mexican wife who does all the cooking. She’s from Veracruz and her homemade tortillas, tamales and sauces are superb. There are also some Veracruz-style shrimp dishes on the menu.

This place is trying hard to stay authentic. Instead of Tex-Mex chips and salsa, they bring you whole tostadas covered with refried beans and sprinkled with white cheese when you sit down. (They are free and you can get refills.) There’s a homemade green sauce on the table if you want it spicy. And there are Mexican cokes in the fridge if you want your drinks sweetened with cane sugar.

Most dishes here are made to order, including the chunky guacamole and the sensational red and green chicken enchiladas with crema. I recommend the made-from-scratch mole Poblano; it’s dark, complex and seductively smooth.You can get it with chicken or all by itself on tortillas -- just ask for the tortillas enmoladas. --

Robb Walsh

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