Mexican Madness I A tale of two restaurants: Pancho's Mexican Villa

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Part One | Part Two

I have been keen to try the popular V Burger Bar for absolutely ages, so after creating much hype with the boy all day (including performing a little dance that he calls my Homer dance), we journeyed down to the Albany Highway café strip to give their burgers a shot.  To my extreme disappointment I was to find they had run out of gluten-free buns!  I was so devastated! I had been conjuring up images of sinking my teeth deep into a juicy burger for much of the day and nearly stamped my feet like a child in the middle of the restaurant due to my exasperation.

Walking out of the restaurant I could see the dismay on the boy’s face too.  I know how much he loves nachos, so I made what ended up being a very bad decision and suggested we stroll over to Pancho’s Mexican Villa instead.  We walked by all the tried and tested Thai and other Asian joints and walked down the dirty mall corridor into a packed and noisy restaurant.

Service started off a little slow leaving us sitting thirsty and peckish for long enough to notice.  As I perused the menu I was pleased to see there were plenty of gluten-free options and figured that all I needed to do was stay well away from any salsas to avoid the onion.  We started off with some strawberry daiquiris – this is the boy’s favourite drink when we were in Thailand.  Unfortunately none of our memories came flooding back to us when presented with this toxic looking beverage.  It came out a strange bright fluorescent red colour and was sickeningly sweet presumably with the A to Z of all things artificial.  Not exactly my kind of drink but with a half of a bottle of Cloudy Bay Chardonnay already in me I was willing to compromise and just go with the flow.

"Chilli con queso" "guacamole" "chilli con carne" "Pancho's Mexican Villa restaurant" Panchos Mexican "Victoria Park" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" Chompchomp "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Corn chips" Dips

Trio dips: Chilli con queso, guacamole, chilli con carne

For entrées we ordered some dips with corn chips and some potato skins to share.  Our dips came out after a short delay without the accompanying potato skins entrée.  As we chatted and tapped our feet to the horrific mix of 80’s tunes playing, we ate our first half of our entrée and I began to wish we had stopped at Little Ying Thai instead.  The corn chips tasted commercially made and the dips were very oily and bland.  The guacamole was basically just mashed avocado with minimal lemon juice, tomato, spices or salt added.  The Queso dip tasted like the plastic cheese that you get in little cheese sticks for children’s lunch boxes but melted down into goop a bowl.  I avoided most of the chilli con carne dip as I figured it would most likely have some onion in it.  I had a very small taste of it which proved to be watery and as tasteless as the rest of the dips.

As we nibbled away and wondered where our skins were, a waiter zoomed past our table with a sizzling plate of hot food.  As he walked past us big spats of hot oil came showering over the top of me and left a couple of blisters on my neck.  I wasn’t sure if I was being a bit of a sook but it was stinging a fair bit!  The boy gave a quick glance at my neck in the dim light and could see little blisters starting to form on my skin!  I gestured to the waiter and explained to him what had happened.  He said he would talk to his manager however unfortunately that was all we heard from him all night.  No apology was forthcoming, nor was any discount or compensation offered.

Prawns "Cajun camerons" "Pancho's Mexican Villa restaurant" Panchos Mexican "Victoria Park" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" Chompchomp "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption"

Cajun camarons

Slowly but surely we managed to work our way through our fairly dismal entrées.  We are normally fairly speedy eaters but these dips were by no means delicious.  Finally our mains were brought to our table however we were still without our second entrée.  We let the waiter know that we were expecting another entrée and we were informed that it was on the way.

I ordered the Cajun camarons – this was described on the menu as northwest sizzling prawns, dusted in spices, served with rice and vegetables.  I figured a meat dish with spices and no sauces would be an easy way to avoid onion as it was already marked on the menu as gluten-free.  The prawns came out sizzling in about half a cup of stale oil which drenched through the whole remainder of the dish.  The vegetables that accompanied the meal consisted of a soggy slop of cooked grated carrot, zucchini and capsicum with micro-heads of mushy broccoli.  It was so overcooked the vegetables had progressed in texture to become more of a stringy mash.  The oil from the prawns soaked right through the vegetables to give everything on the plate an unpleasant and nearly rancid aftertaste.  The rice was about the only thing edible on the plate and although that was a little overcooked; in my hunger I still ate it.

The boy ordered his beef nachos.  They were unmemorable and a bit soggy and he had very little to comment about them at all.

"Pancho's Mexican Villa restaurant" Panchos Mexican "Victoria Park" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" Chompchomp "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Beef nachos"

Beef nachos

Once we had both finished our main meals our second entrée finally appeared.  At this point in time we had to laugh.  I was expecting some crisp skins, ones that you could eat with your fingers – a little like wedges but less meaty, with maybe some kind of sauce (we chose beef).  Nothing prepared me for the mountain of mush that was put in front of us.  We started to eat it but found all the oil, cheese and sour cream piled high on top of a barely existent poor potato skin proved as inedible as the rest of our meals.  I gestured to the waiter to take it away before I started to feel ill.

It has been nearly ten years since I have eaten Mexican – we ate it often when we lived in London as there were a couple of favourite places we used to visit.  I am reluctant to even eat it again after this experience but we are going to give it another shot and hit up another Mexican place in my next blog …. Stay tuned……

Price:           $$  ($10-16 Entrée, $17-27 Mains)
Food:           0.5/5  (near on revolting)
Service:       2/5  (service with a smile and a scar to make sure you never forget)
Ambience:  3/5  (a packed restaurant gives good vibe)
Drinks:        2/5  (too toxic and artificial for me but cheap)
Pancho’s Mexican Villa Restaurant
885 Albany Hwy, East Victoria Park 6101 | (08) 9361 2135 |

Pancho's Mexican Villa Restaurant on Urbanspoon

36 Thoughts on “Mexican Madness I A tale of two restaurants: Pancho's Mexican Villa

  1. xD! Reminds me of the totally bulls**t nachos I had the last time when I went there last year. It was my first and last visit because I decided that better could be made at home for less 😉

  2. I thoroughly enjoy your perfectly articulated “reviews” and sometimes find myself feeling sorry for the restaurants you are chomping in…this one however looked absolutely awful….you have certainly saved me an unpleasant experience…cheers

  3. Yup mexican can be very hit and miss.

    I hear the new La cholita in Northbridge is good mexican fare and hip, ..but I have yet to go so perhaps you can trial if you havnt picked somewhere already!

  4. One of my favorite restaurants in Perth, great place for a great night out with good food and exceptional service. As compared to other ripoff places in Perth Pancho’s is value for money. You must be tired and grumpy from the Xmas period.!

    • I wish for Pancho’s sake that it was purely just my mood that created such an abysmal evening, however surely there really is no excuse for burning customers. That aside, after my recent experience at another local Mexican joint I recognise even further how poor the food standard is at Pancho’s. I dont enjoy eating sour cream slops – I prefer food with flavour and texture!

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  7. As a resident of Mexico and a lover of its fabulous cuisine, I always hate it when I see it poorly prepared. I hope you have the chance to find some good Mexican food somewhere in your incredible Aussie food scene. Great blog! I’m enjoying scrolling through it.

    • Thanks, I’m glad your enjoying the read! I have been enjoying reading your blog too! Have you come to Australia before?

  8. Not yet! But I have so many Aussie friends that I can land softly when I do. Lots of kind invitations to visit. And somehow I find myself of late reading many Australian food blogs and loving them!

  9. Your review is well disguised as being subjective however you fail to mention the thousands that do enjoy the downtown, unpretentious setting, and understand that Panchos is a place to relax and socialize, not for fast food, not for posturing.

    I’m not sure if you are talking about the same arcade but the arcade that leads to Panchos front door is clean and tidy and in a state expected of a building over 30 years old!!

    I would also like to draw your attention to Panchos Facebook page and the 5600 followers they have. Surely all these fans cannot be wrong and understand that there is no way you can disguise Mexican food in to looking like something’s it’s not.

    Panchos is a place a place where friends are saluted, made and kept. Many people enjoy the casual dining familiarity which Panchos offers. Of course, in was impossible to perceive all that in your recent review where you had very little time to make your impressions and draw your conclusions. Yet you did!

    I really question the authenticity of people that publish on the internet what amounts to a permanent announcement that this place is a nasty shack. You may not like Panchos, but many do. And there is nothing “nasty” about Panchos nor any of the people involved there. Of course, it is not possible for everyone to like or appreciate Panchos!

    Reading somebody else’s review of an establishment that is an icon in Perth for 30 years makes for some strange feelings that oscillate between anger and amusement. But to be a good reporter, you must look beyond your personal tastes, and if not, understand yourself enough to provide a clear point of departure for your point of view. Moreover, on a whirlwind visit such as yours it is impossible to get under the surface, to come to understand what makes things tick at Panchos.

    Allow me to suggest that as you pursue your writing interests on eating establishments, you take to heart the corresponding responsibility of doing the research that necessary to put things into proper perspective. Don’t try to size things up on a one night visit!!!!!!!!

    • Thank you for your feedback jsex and apologies for the short delay in approving your comment and providing this response. It sounds like you have strong views on Pancho’s which is nice to see! Are you part of the business or simply a happy customer wanting to put across a different view?

      I am sorry you feel my review is unfair but as with all things in life everyone has different tastes and in my case Pancho’s does not deliver the kind of eating experience that I look for. I was never questioning the success of the business as it obviously fills a unique niche which I am sure will continue to guarantee its success for years to come. As you have said there are many fans of this kind of food as demonstrated by their Facebook page however there are also many for whom this restaurant would not suit their tastes. My review will simply allow those considering visiting Pancho’s for the first time some insight into the style of food, service and atmosphere that they can expect.

      Pancho’s offers a particular kind of experience and going by the reviews posted on Urban Spoon there are certainly many like myself who have not enjoyed it. Comments can be found such as “The worst Mexican food I’ve ever had”!!!!”, “Rude, inattentive staff”, “Microwaved slush of cheese and cream”, “Such little respect for their customers”, “Inedible” and “Never Going Back” to name a few. Take a peek on there yourself and you will find many more.

      There are also comments about negative feedback being deleted from their Facebook page which if true is poor form. If Pancho’s wants to promote itself via social media like Facebook then they should understand the basic principles and that includes never deleting comments (unless they contain profanities of course). Negative comments should be seen as an opportunity to respond and turn the situation around to a positive for both parties. Taking heed of customer complaints and actioning them is a much more appropriate way to handle this and can actually work to the benefit of the business as both a quality control and a public relations tool.

      Your comment that I had a “whirl wind” visit to the restaurant is a bit of an exaggeration. We stayed for several hours for what ended up being three courses due to poor service, ordered 4 dishes and had 3 rounds of drinks. This hardly constitutes a short evening. I am also concerned by your suggestion that I referred to Pancho’s or the staff as being “nasty” as at no point did I use such a term and think you have read far more into my words then was ever intended.

      It is a fact I did indeed get blister burns from our waiter and did not receive any comment or apology from the manager despite being told they would speak with me. The food was exactly as I have described without any embellishment and paled in comparison to our fabulous dining experience with That Little Mexican Place down the road.

      This wasn’t my first visit to Pancho’s as I visited there some fifteen years ago and had a similar experience which is why it has taken me so long to return! As I still love Mexican food perhaps I will return again in a year or so and post an update on my thoughts. As a local to Victoria Park I expect to post many reviews of the restaurants in the area and plan to return multiple times to them all. Hopefully next time will be a more enjoyable experience.

      Again thank you for your feedback and if you are involved in this business please see this review as an opportunity to gain some understanding of why many of your customers are complaining on Urban Spoon. Most customers never complain and simply just never return therefore any negative feedback should be seen as an opportunity to address issues that possibly many other customers have also experienced.

  10. Thank you for taking the time to reply. However did you actually read my comments!!! It doesn’t seem so. You have simply chosen to attack Panchos again. I really find your conduct unprofessional and unethical!

    You assume I am part of the business. Is this because you are surprised that someone would challenge you that is not a Restaurant owner?

    You seem to hang your hat on ‘Urbanspoon’. I am astonished that you would reply by simply repeating ‘some’ of the comments on urbansoon. You should take a step back and look at what urbansppon has become. I personally am struggling with the urban spooner’s bitchy, armchair food critic comments (in general not just for Panchos!). It seems to be more of a winge site these days than a real foodies constructive review site. It seems ‘U-spooner’ doesn’t like being served by some-one cooler than themselves? All I see on Urban Spoon is wining complaints because people had to wait for a table. All I can say is get out there, sign a lease… create a venue/ hire staff/ come up with a unique (to Perth anyway) concept- and do a better job yourself if you can.

    Since you have eloquently pointed out Panchos shortcomings on ‘Urbanspoon’ why not let your many followers know that there are other sites that also are forums for feedback on eating establishments in WA. Have a look at ‘tripadvisor’ Panchos has 4 stars from 45 reviews or ‘eatingwa’ 4 stars from 20 reviews;

    “Good for Australia”, “Still the best”, “Good Mexican in Perth”, “Great Food”, “Relaxed and so Friendly”…….I could go on and on!

    What I object to the most is your arrogant and biased attack on Panchos in your article ‘That Little Mexican Place. You continue to defame, ridicule and persecute Panchos based on one recent experience. You are a fraud to say the least. You hide behind this forum and offer the places you attack no true chance to respond. And if they do it is after the fact!

    I can safely assume that you have never owned your own business and therefore take pleasure in defaming establishments that by the majority are doing the right thing! But hey ‘IT’S ONLY YOUR OPINION! Right!!

  11. As tragic as it seems, first impression do count. Why would I spend 40-50 dollars dining in a place I do not enjoy? From my past experience at Pancho’s I was definitely not wow-ed by the fact that the food lackluster and the service was just mediocre. If there is a thing to shout a bout, its that when I ask for spicy, I get. Since then, there has not been a visit.

    But do understand, shit if food for some while food is shit for some.Then again, I never expect everyone to agree with my opinion.

  12. All this controversy is making me wanna try Panchos out! Or maybe I should save my money for the new mexican restaurant that is about to open in Perth and instead let the 5600 fans keep spending their money in here hehehe

  13. Who is this Jsex?! Don’t they realise Chompchomp is a blogger and not a reporter?! Tiz a hilarious convo between them though.

  14. this is indeed, brilliant, well said “lickmylips” Jsex just HAS to be closely linked to Panchos !!!!! Owner perhaps??? Keep up the fantasticly honest blogging Chompy :-)

  15. I found ChompChomp’s initial review and then follow up replies thoughtful, honest, eloquent and above all else FAIR. She was writing about her experience. She can only write what happened.

    For me, personally when I read a review I want an honest one. It is better for businesses that future clientele have a realistic expectation of what to expect. If I head into an experience expecting all glitz. glamour and 5 star dining I don’t want to be disappointed when I get there and find a lesser experience.

    I’m a pretty honest person and I can be realistic enough to admit that the reviewer and I are worlds apart in the types of dining establishments we frequent. One thing we would probably agree on though is that good service and excellent customer service can forgive an array of problems. I don’t care where I dine. Even if it is Maccas. I would most certainly expect a visit from the Manager no matter how busy the night was if I or a member of my family was burnt or hurt in any way whilst dining in that restaurant. To be ignored is simply disgraceful.

    I don’t rely simply on internet reviews to sway me on whether or not I should eat out at a specific place. Sure I take it into account with what to expect. But being a working Mum I don’t always choose where I am going. I most certainly still would have visited Pancho’s from this review. I would have gone in with low expectations but most likely come out quite happy and satisfied. If I went in with a glowing review I would most probably come out quite disappointed!

    As I said the reviewer and I are worlds apart in our tastes. It isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t make her arrogant or biased if she didn’t like it. She can’t be blamed for giving an honest opinion on her experiences. She isn’t claiming to be reviewing on behalf of every single customer to ever walk through the doors! She has posted photos to accompany her comments.

    I too question Jsex’s connection to Pancho’s. If they are indeed apart of the business maybe they should go back to Business school and learn some basic customer service skills and if they aren’t then maybe they should be mindful of what they say as the way they are writing is not doing Pancho’s any favours!

  16. I have been to Pancho’s before; and agree with this review. Microwaved slop, I can make better at home. It was a dinner arranged for my birthday and I was embarrassed to have brought my friends there.

      • Hey Jsex…obviously I do or eat at much better restaurants. You are getting a bit emotional about your restaurant; do you think being a smart ass will make people suddenly like Pancho’s? Move on my friend, its a food blog; I have given my opinion as I am entitled to, and you have given yours. Concentrating on improving your eating establishment might suit you better. Potential customers reading your comments are sure to be put off visiting Panchos seeing you are such an agressive staff member/owner/loser.

  17. Well… suppose that answers the question of whether Jsex is the owner of the business or not… also answers the question of what they think of their customers!

  18. You two would like to think I am an owner of Panchos. That would make you feel better about what I write!
    I wish I was the Owner. Sadly I’m not. However I don’t expect you to believe this as it would severely dent your over inflated beliefs in what you write on these sites is your opinion and therefore is ‘OK’. Get a life. Go and own your own business, pay staff and be as successful as Panchos! I dare you…

    • Today’s hypothesis: Jsex is employed by the Gods to create hype surrounding Panchos attempting to increase business to the restaurant through sheer curiosity resulting in a non-ending succession of one-off customers thus ensuring the longevity of the restaurant, despite it’s lack of quality food and drinks

  19. I am thinking all this controversy means I am going to have to revisit Panchos and see if my impressions are as wrong as some believe them to be. Stay tuned!

  20. Chompchomp; I wouldn’t bother! Urbanspoon, your tastebuds and the mysterious Jsex have spoken – save your money.

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  22. I have only just discovered your blog but your review of Panchoes has struck a chord with me. I went there a few years ago after hearing nothing but wonderful things about it. Like you I was bitterly disappointed! Service was terrible, food was so bad that even my mum (who cant cook) could have done better with an old el paso kit! Funnily enough the friends I was there with thought it was amazing and tasty… I can only put this down to them enjoying microwaved slops! I never let them choose a restaurant again.
    I would not spend my money going back there again! EVER!

    May I add… I once worked with a lady who quit her job to open a Mexican restaurant (not in Vic Park). She pretty much used the commercial version of Old El Paso Kits (she was neither mexican nor a chef). It was terrible!!! But others raved about it, I can only put it down to the demographics of the area and the patrons lack of knowledge of GOOD FOOD.

    • Very well said Jo! Mexican cuisine is certainly much more interesting than just refried beans, melted cheese, sour cream and nachos! I’m not claiming to be an expert by no means, but our Panchos experience has been one of the worst low lights of my blogging career. Thankfully I have had many much more exciting and delicious dinners since!

  23. The food at Panchos is just rubbish and you pay top dollar for those corn chips and cheese. Even McDonalds is better

    • I couldn’t agree more! Especially when there are now so many better Mexican options around town. And they’re not even really that cheap?!?! I don’t get it. I guess different strokes for different folks!

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