In Pancho’s kitchen and vegan tacos are a tasty pairing in Long Beach – Press Telegram
As we emerge like grumpy bears from a yearlong hibernation, flashing in the light of day, we have found restaurants of every shade and cry have emerged with us, ready to feed us the food. that we had before – and those. we don’t either. Some are highly publicized, like The Bungalow at 2nd by Michael Mina and PCH. But most are small, maybe a little quirky, and more than a little welcome.
Consider, for a start, the excellent “Cooking from the Soul” served by ruthlessly cheerful chef Nora Tatum at her home. In the kitchen (900 Long Beach Boulevard, Long Beach, 562-676-4106) – a gracious foodie destination around the corner with a particularly simple menu of incredibly delicious food. As stated on the brief menu, “Come and grab your plate of homemade soul food!” And Chief Nora knows it.
She was born in Texas and raised in the mid-south, which gives her an abundant touch of goodness – she can’t resist putting a little more on your plate to make sure no one leaves the kitchen hungry and that the food travels very well, with more to eat even after finishing what appears to be a reasonable portion. Assuming, that is, you don’t inhale every bite out of sheer joy to be back in the world.
Show up for lunch, and the choices are at their simplest – a thick, juicy and irresistible cheeseburger, with fried catfish and fried chicken. Always fried chicken, the essential dish of the kitchen! It is served with fries and a drink included in the price! (Which in the case of fried chicken is $ 9.95!)
And it’s good, world-class fried chicken, crispy like a giant chicken-shaped potato chip, with batter worth eating, and the calories be damned! (We’ve lived with frozen food from Trader Joe’s for quite a long time, thanks!) The chicken inside is incredibly moist. If you’re okay with fried chicken being the main course, this one rings that bell.
Dinner is more complex – slightly. Fried catfish is back, and so is fried chicken – although it’s also available as smothered chicken, dressed in a thick gravy and well worth licking off the plate. There are also pork chops, fried and smothered. There are oxtails – which for those of us who grew up in families where the bones were cooked until shreds of meat fell off, very familiar. There is a vegetable platter on three sides and cornbread.
And those sides are worth going into the kitchen on their own: mashed potatoes with lots of garlic, corn, green beans, rice, collard greens, candied yams, black-eyed peas, cabbage and – yes! – “chik n mac”!
Desserts offer delicacies such as banana pudding and peach cobbler. In this kitchen you eat well – with the taste of love in every bite
What we have in the kitchen of Pancho’s vegan tacos (1837 E. 7th St., Long Beach; 562-908-0083, www.vegantacos.net) tastes like absolutely no meat in any bite. This is the first SoCal branch of a mini-chain with two outlets in Las Vegas, and another soon to be in Austin, Texas. It’s part of a growing trend for meatless versions of classic meat dishes. And while that’s far from new – Chinese meatless restaurants have been around forever, with Thai meatless, with a growing world of vegan Italian, and lots of Mexican food without animal protein – these are cuisines in which the vegetables are an easy substitute for meat.
But when I say it’s a growing trend, I’m referring to the exponential increase in vegan restaurants, in many cases a result of the wide acceptance of Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat on menus. Live meatless thanks to science! And in this case, through the flavor too. Because, with the exception of the use of vegan protein, the menu here isn’t just a Mexican menu… it’s a big Mexican menu.
Meat substitutes, for the record, are wheat-based carne asada, al pastor and chorizo; a soy-based “Chik-End”; jackfruit-based carnitas; and various uses of mushroom “meat” and cactus “meat”. Above all, you will notice the difference in the textures. Tastes may match, but the texture is a bit offbeat. Give the food technicians time, they will succeed.
Meanwhile, the menu wanders through six Mexican breakfasts, a few nacho options, four burritos, six tortas, two tostadas, six tacos, four enchiladas, two quesadillas, half a dozen platters, and five starters. In case that isn’t enough, there are well-stocked fries, burgers and hot dogs. “GFs” are popping up everywhere for gluten-free dishes.
Prices are low – and even lower on Taco Tuesday, Nacho Wednesday, Tostada Thursday, Burrito Friday, Sope Saturday, and Chilaquiles Sunday. And Monday? It’s Monday without meat. But then, isn’t it every day?
Merrill Shindler is an independent Los Angeles-based food critic. Send an email to [email protected]