N/Q Train to Broadway
As you can tell from these pics, it was a celebration at Pachanga Patterson, as we rang in our friend Paul's (aka Ball's) birthday. I was so happy to finally check this place out - it's been open since March and this is the first time I've been. The owners, who also run one of my Astoria faves, Vesta, continue to deliver with this one.
Quaint and interesting are the words that come to mind when thinking back on Pachanga. The front of the house is set up with a few small and larger sized rectangular tables, one of which we occupied. I loved the turquoise wrap-around bar with casual stools and a friendly bar staff, ready and willing to have you taste some nifty tequila specialties, some of which are concepted on the spot.
Overall, the space is on the long, narrow side, and lit partially by decorative hanging lights, reminiscent of Mexican street fairs. Funky wall art decs the gorgeous exposed bricks that add another element of earthiness and authenticity to this already fabulous vibe.
Very different from Vesta, Pachanga features homemade Mexican food. Comforting, filling, spicy and delicious Mexican food. But just like at Vesta, quality and simplicy are key, as Pachanga showcases this both in their ingredients and its overall menu setup. Choosing a dish from its pithy menu is a cinch, and a lot of items are conducive to sharing. Here's what we tried:
Appetizers - Because this was a celebration, we started with a couple of apps including the guacamole with house-fried tortillas, a trio of salsas and cheese quesadillas. My favorite were the quesadillas, which were creamy and cheesy with a nice charred exterior. The inside was stuffed with a combination of corn, cannellini beans, pickled serrano and cotija cheese. It had a hint of sharpness at the end of each bite, but overall was a mild and interesting dish - definitely an elevated version of your ordinary quesadilla.
Entrees - Everyone more or less got a variety of tacos and shared them. Sonya also ordered an interesting vegetarian dish called the veggie jenga, which turned out to be one of my favorites. But before I get to that, a bit about the tacos...
I got the trio of the Vietnamese marinated pork tacos with pickled beans. It was an interesting combination and unlike any taco I've ever had. I adored the crunchy beans, which caused your face to pucker a bit, but the pork was a tad on the dry side. Maybe I'll add some sauce to it next time.
What completely blew my mind (and my tastebuds) were the fish tacos, which were ancho battered and dressed with a citrus habanero aioli. Not only was this taco wonderfully spicy, it also had an immense amount of flavor, freshness and a gorgeous firm texture (not mushy like some fish tacos can be). Before trying it, I was convinced that Nixtamal's version of fish tacos could never be beat, until now. I am hands down getting a trio of those next time around - and the Pollack they used in it was just wonderful.
Now about the veggie jenga...where do I start? The hues in this dish were just gorgeous, featuring just about very color under the sun. Consisting of pieces of a tostada, mashed up beans, avocado, sweet potato puree that rested on the bottom of the plate and two fried eggs on top, it was an all-inclusive meal. I don't even have to explain how much I love fried eggs on top of anything, and breaking these into the ingredients I just mentioned created a silky, comforting concoction. Almost everyone had a bite and agreed that this dish was something special.
Dessert - Because it was Paul's birthday, we had to get dessert and indulged in three options including banana tortillas with caramel sauce, cinnamon panna cotta with caramel brittle and pepitas as well as Pachanga's version of the famous Vesta Baby Jesus cake, which they call The Diablito here. Although all three desserts were delicious, my favorite were the banana tortillas, which were so delicate on the outside, and filled with a delectable caramelized banana on the inside. I adore banana desserts and this one was no different - everyone agreed that this was the piece-de-resistance, and the caramel sauce definitely put us over the edge from full to really really full. But it was worth every calorie, and then some.
Service and Cost:
It's easy to tell that the hospitable, warm owners of Vesta, Joe and Leo run this place. The staff is cordial and friendly, pleasantly conversational but not overbearing. I loved that they weren't afraid to give their recommendations, and because it was Paul's birthday, they treated our whole party and Paul especially, like VIPs. It was really sweet, and didn't go unnoticed.
Costs are moderate and include:
Appetizers - $4 - $10
Tacos - $7 - $12
Entrees - $10 - $19
Sides - $4 - $9