Poncho's is an authentic Mexican restaurant on Denman near Robson Street. Ponchos features live music every week from Wednesday to Sunday
Promenading up Denman Street with my boyfriend last night, we passed by Ponchos, which appeared to be the happening place. Live music streamed out the window and what appeared to be a full house of patrons patiently awaiting their dinner . The menu looked good enough so we went for it.
I ordered the Azteca Soup and the Quesadilla, my boyfriend got the Pollo con al chipotle parmesana
"a must have" (according to the menu and waitress).
After a half hour we received our food. What awaited my appetite was a shallow bowl of soggy tortilla chips in a thin sodium rich broth. When the 2nd course arrived, I initially thought the wrong order was given to me as the quesadillas were not present on my plate, it wasn't until I took a closer look that I realized they were miniature. Not miniature in the cute sense of the word, rather miniature in the scale sense. Each quesadilla was as no larger than 1 human thumb. There were 6 on the plate which I suppose resembled a 6 thumbed hand. They were unsatisfying. The side order of rice tasted like Uncle Ben rice with frozen vegtables.
The Pollo con al chipotle parmesana was generic and left my boyfriend still hungry after his meal.
After we left, it was off to find our next food destination...never have I ever left a Mexican restaurant hungry.
I ate there a few years ago and wasn't overly impressed, but decided to give them another chance last night.
Big mistake. I remember now why I didn't go back the last time. I most certainly will never go back again and I will tell all of my many friends the same.
SERVICE (1): I arrived at 4:30 and found out they didn't open until 5. I should have taken this opportunity, but oh no. I was hungry, wanted Mexican food and I had already trekked all the way from Marpole to the West End via transit. So I came back at around 6.
SERVICE (2): Red flags started popping up the second I walked in the door. I had to argue with the waitress about being allowed to sit somewhere other than right by the door even though the restaurant was completely empty. (The fact that the restaurant was completely empty at 6PM on a beautiful summer Friday evening in the West End should have been a major red flag, but I still soldiered on.) Then, I had to ask for water, which tasted funny. Then I realised I was not offered chips and salsa, something that's de rigeur at every other Mexican establishment I have ever visited. Then I found out they didn't have any beer on tap.
I should have gotten up and left right then, but oh no, I *still* soldiered on.
FOOD (1): This place's only redeeming quality is the red salsa, which was very good. Everything else was awful. The nachos consisted of a small dinner plate with maybe two or three layers of chips covered with a thin layer of refried beans, about an inch of red salsa (very tasty - the only redeeming quality of this place) and a light dusting of some white cheese-like substance. I thus had a choice of chip consistencies - completely soaked through or completely dry and untouched by any toppings. Bottom line: I can get better nachos at any non-Mexican sports bar in Vancouver.
SERVICE (3): Clearly the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing. I was asked by no fewer than three staff for my order after I'd already given it. I was never offered refills of the funny-tasting water, but had to flag down the staff and interrupt their obviously personal texting and mobile phone conversations. When I asked why I wasn't getting chips and salsa, I was told I had to order an entreé and that the nachos didn't count because they were just an appy.
FOOD (2): As stated earlier, I was hungry and was jonesing for Mexican food, so I decided to STILL soldier on and order an entreé. Big mistake. My chicken molé came, again, on a small dinner plate (more like a large salad plate) and consisted of dry chicken with too-sweet sauce and tiny portions of rice and beans. The rice had a suspicious red powdery spice mixture sprinkled on it and contained what was obviously once frozen corn and carrots.
VALUE: As stated above, the portions were very skimpy. The nachos at any non-Mexican place are big enough to fill up a single diner and then some, but not here. The portions of rice and beans were scarcely bigger than your fist when they should each be about the size of your face. The whole abomination came to nearly $40 even though I hadn't ordered any alcohol, and that included being charged $2.95 for an extra small cup of salsa to cover up the taste of the awful molé sauce. And then they wondered why I didn't tip. It's too bad I didn't have two pennies on me or I would have given the "two-cent treatment."
AMBIANCE: The small restaurant was quite hot and very noisy. They had a musician who missed every third note of what sounded vaguely like the Mexican Hat Dance on ludes. I wondered if he was just practising for his ambition of being a worse singer than William Shatner.
All in all, a horrible dining experience and I really wish I could get my money back.
I went with a group of 10 on a Friday night, arriving on time for our reservation. Our tables hadn't been set up for us in advance, so we had to wait in the doorway while they did that. The servers were friendly enough at first, but became distant as the night wore on.
Our drinks arrived at different times and the appetizers that were ordered were forgotten by the servers. One of our party sent back a pitcher of sangria because it was full of ice and little drink. After an hour, meals finally started arriving, but they came a couple at a time. While my meal sat in front of me getting cold, I waited for my tablemates to receive their meals for a very long time. The servers lazily delivered meals to other tables and didn't seem to notice that half of our table didn't have meals. I finally had to approach the owner to tell her that we were waiting for a long time. She jumped to attention and finally the other meals arrived. I had to have mine reheated.
The food was so-so, no one was really blown away by it and the consensus was that this had been a bad choice for our group meal. When we were paying the bill, I think the owner finally noticed that we weren't thrilled and told us that the next time we returned with a group, we would get a free appetizer or something. Too little, too late. Sorry Poncho's, but I don't think I'll ever come back.
We dropped by during the early evening when it was not too crowded or busy. Service was good - we had no problem there. The paella seafood dish was pretty bland with tough small shrimp. The enchiladas with mole sauce was terrible. Nothing special about the 'homemade' mole. Two enchiladas were drowned in an ocean of mole with a tasteless cheese spread on top. Greasy rice sitting on a lake of mole. It was not easy to get through our meal. Very disappointed and won't be going back.
After some Christmas shopping we were looking for a place to relax and have a nice meal. Walked by Poncho's and thought we'd give it a try. We waited at the door to be seated for 5 minutes. This place is the size of a closet so they noticed us for sure. When someone arrived to seat us, we were not greeted, menu's thrown on the table and kept walking. Although stunned and amazed that this had happened, we looked at the menu. Uninspired is a word that comes to mind. Waited for a server to take drink orders...never happened.
I am no fool and recognized that I was clearly not welcomed here. We got up and left. The only faint bright spot is that the guitarist said good-bye. Unwittingly, he may not realize how permanent that statement is with regard to Poncho's. It will be a cold day in......before you see me or my money.
We went to Panchos looking for a good local Mexican restaurant. What a disappointment. The Chile Rellanos was soggy, over cooked and unrecognizable as a pepper. The complimentary first round of chips and Salsa was meagre especially considering they charge $20 for a basic entree (you'd think they'd throw in a few more chips). Beans tasted as if they came straight from the can.
Treat yourself, head across the border to Bellingham or even Blaine where you can have great Mexican food for a fair price.
Server was pleasant enough but not really interested in her job, wifes meal was worse than mine, which was at least edible, we were wished a good night and come again but I had to remind her we hadn't gotten a bill yet therefore hadn't paid, she then proceeded to take another 5 minutes trying to figure out the bill.
So here we come to a little Mexican nook on Denman street. I've been here plenty of times with friends because we love the place so much.
Highlights: the food (of course) and their special "Poncho's Coffee!"
We almost always start out with their "Sopa Azteca," which is essentially chicken soup with tortillas, spices, avocado, and cheese. Simply put: glory!
I bounce around their main course items, all of which (so far that I've tasted) are really good. The meat is always cooked to perfection, the flavours are bold and well-balanced, and the portions are hearty.
But, the highlight of the meal comes last, with Poncho's Coffee. For $7 a glass, you get a live performance by one of the owners, flambé-ing shots of Gran Marnier, Kahlua, and brandy into a glass with coffee and rimmed with a mixture of lemon, sugar, and cinnamon. Nothing draws attention more than flaming glasses! And it's done with panache.
There's also a live guitarist who plays and sings in the evening, which adds a nice "homely" touch to the place, which is decked with lots of typical Mexican decorations.
The servers are decent, need to be prompted sometimes and aren't the greatest at taking orders, but hey - they get the job done eventually. The food and drinks are more than worth the service. Recommended.
I read the reviews of Poncho's before visiting there over the weekend. I should have known that my experience wouldn't be any better. First, my fiance and I had to wait 15 minutes for a table after being promised it would only be 5 minutes, and with two tables having already been cleared and ready for customers. After finally being seated, we had to wait another 5 minutes for our menus and no one took our drink order until well after that. After almost walking out at that point, we grudgingly decided to have fajitas and the tostada. They were okay at best. The margaritas were really good though. And they give you chips and salsa to start your meal which was pretty good. That's about all I can say that was positive about our experience. We probably won't be going back as we didn't feel valued as customers at all.
Everything tasted like blaaaaaand beans. Seriously. This is not a good option for even mediocre Mexican food; especially when there are so many better options in the neighbourhood! The service was ridiculously slow - with only two tables with customers!
The margaritas were underblended (GIANT chunks of ice do not make for a refreshing drink), both dishes we ordered tasted like pasty, bland beans (even though we ordered completely different meals, they both tasted the same), the service was poor, and the ambiance was fairly typical.
Don't waste your time.
I have always wanted to eat at this restaurant after walking by it for years. Tonight my buddy and I went to eat here and it was in a word OK. The portions were small for the price but the taquitos I had and the chimichanga my buddy had were tasty enough. I was still hungry after the meal. Our waitress was very nice and friendly and the food arrived quickly. The ambiance was cute with sombrero lights and Mexican chachkas. All in all pleasant but not spectacular.
I know that rent is high in downtown Vancouver and as a result restaurants tend to be a little costlier, especially the sit-down ones. But eating at Ponchos I really can't help but feel just a touch ripped-off at the comparison between the price we paid for our meals and the quality of the food and service. The food is standard Mexican fare, nothing special and certainly nothing to write home about. The service is, also, average at best. If you've got a hankering for Mexican food and you're in the area, it'll serve that purpose, but there are many better (and better-valued) restaurants in the area if you're just looking for a bite to eat.
Just run it like Poncho's. While the food was fine, it was amazing how a nearly empty restaurant could leave you hanging with a dry mouth and an empty drinking glass. And all the while, the owners were staring right at us like deer in headlights. I gave this place a couple of chances for previous sins, but tonight took the cake. Folks, this is quite possibly the worst service in Vancouver. The WORST. With only two tables booked, we sat for nearly 10 minutes before a server even came out to ask us if we wanted water.
I've eaten at Poncho's before and it was quite good. Unfortunately things have changed.
Our entrees came out before our appetizers, so we asked for our appetizers first, which took an additonal 20 minutes. When our entrees eventually came out, 20 minutes after our appetizers had been cleared, they were THE SAME plates we had originally been served! They were cold and scuzzy looking after sitting under a heat lamp for over half an hour, so we sent them back. 10 or 15 minutes later, they came out again, still only lukewarm, but at that point we decided that sending them back again would ensure that we would spend at least another hour there.
The service was terrible, we weren't quality checked even once, and nobody apologized for the numerous errors. It seemed that we were not the only people experiencing this as well. I love mexican food, but I will not ever set foot in there again. I would have given the service a zero if I could have. The ambience was ok, what I would expect from a mexican place, but didn't even come close to making up for the inattentive, inept service.
Ok, we cannot take Pancho's for more than what it is. It is an inexpensive eating option downtown.
When we arrived it was moderately busy, and my friend and I quickly stole a desired, but unreserved table. Glad we did, because five minutes later, the line up was out the door and we had hungry masses watching us eating our food for the remainder of the time. Close the door people - are you in or out?!
Took a bit of time get our beer and the did not have draught, but the simple and salty nachos were brought out quickly. The simple salsa had a kick to it, which was a welcome change from the bland stuff that is usually served to please the "it's too spicey" crowd who would be better off traveling with packets of Taco Bell salsa.
Entrees were brought out quickly. TexMex style fajitas and burritos, but lived up to expectations. The meat used was ok, but not wonderful, and more shells had to be asked for.
Service was with a smile, and the friendliness made up for any shortcomings. The staff genuinely appeared to enjoy serving their customers - even the ones patiently waiting for seats.
Good value. I will probably return with my wife who enjoys TexMex food.
Service isn't top priority here... it's got the "mañana" kind of feel to it.
That being said, I found the margaritas and the food delicious. And every time I've been here, there's been a live musician playing a guitar, belting out some spanish tune.
Definitely quenched my craving for Mexican, and I will be back.
I wanted to give the food a five start rating, but I'm just not sure what incredible tastes like. I've been going to Mexico and eating in their restaurants almost every year for the past 16 years (not the all-inclusives) and I really like what I have found at Poncho's. I've been eating at Poncho's for a good twelve years now and have enjoyed it everytime.
I have tried most of the dishes and all tasted really good. I almost always savour my first few bites before I lose control and chow down, unless it is too hot of course. Some of my favorites are, Pollo con caso e creama, Steak & Garlic prawns, Carne Mexicana and sometimes the Pollo or Carne Verdes for a nice tangy change. I also like that they bring you a basket of chips with Kaeta's fresh salsa to start, like they do at most places in Mexico. Although I like the salads that come with some dishes, I often order something else to get their refried beans. Yum.
I don't drink alcohol, but I have found the Horchata a very delicious drink and reccomend it highly. The deserts are good too, although I rarely have room left for some.
I have introduced Poncho's many times to family and friends and they have also found it an enjoyable experience.
My wife and I have found it better to go before 7pm to beat the rush as it gets busy most nights. We've been lucky enough to get in during special Mexican celebrations like Mexican Independence day where Poncho's puts on a show of traditional dancers and music or a great Mariachi band.
The owners and staff have always been friendly and promt as they are able to in their Mexican way. Something new I learned, is Mexicans think it rude to bring you the check before you ask for it. So if you are in a rush, ask earlier.
I wish they could be open for breakfasts on the weekends. I know it would be great. Enjoy.
Went here about a week ago and although the food was pretty decent(average at best) the service was weak.On a sunday night they had 3 waitresses plus the manager working the floor and they were still running around like crazy.This is for a room of maybe 20 people total.
Serving isn't an easy job but they had no organization whatsoever. We were seated by one waitress who we had to flag down after 15 mins. for water and then gave our orders to another only to have the third waitress ask us after another 15 if we'd ordered yet and that she'd have to check to see if our order had made it to the chefs...
We noticed at least two other tables looking irritated ,as well as one couple leaving in anger.
The whole time the 3 servers were scrambling around the restaurant we could see the manager just chilling out,not too concerned.Even when an older couple seated next to us raised issue with being overcharged he just pawned it off to the server to let her deal with it.
Not impressed at all...
Last Friday night, a group of us booked a table for a friend's birthday. The food was delicious, the service excellent, there was lively Mexican music and they make the best Margaritas in town, what more can you ask?! Kaeta went out of her way to make it a memorable evening for us and we had a wonderful time.
I would recommend Ponchos to anyone wanting authentic Mexican food and a great party atmosphere! The place was full and there were many people waiting to get a table, this is a sure sign of a good Restaurant in my opinion!
We weren't looking for anything fancy. We were standing on Denman and looked at Poncho's, then across the street to Rooster's Quarters, then looked back at Poncho's, and opted for Poncho's knowing that we weren't looking for gourmet - just an affordable, casual meal.
Immediately we were given the window seat. Menus came soon after and we ordered a liter of sangria and the dinner platter for 2.
Throughout our dinner we would be served by 3-4 different waitresses.
Chips with salsa arrived within a few minutes, as did 2 glasses of ice water. Our sangria arrived almost at the same time as our first course - the quesadillas. The quesadillas were cut into small wedges, filled with tiny bits of sausage and a lot of creamy cheese. On top was a dollop of guacamole.
The sangria was refreshing - not too much ice, not too much fruit. The fruit (apples and orange peel) were cut into 1cm cubes.
Dishes were cleared away when our platter arrived. It had marinated beef (with some sort of tomato/celery stew on top), 10 garlic prawns, a tiny bowl of rice, a tiny bowl of beans & cheese, and 2 chili rellenos. The chili rellenos were mild, covered in tomato sauce and covered entirely in melted cheese. It was too much cheese to what's already a cheesy dish. The prawns were good - the tails were removed so it made for easy eating. The rice/beans were bland, as they should be, but the beef was flavourful. Not the best quality of beef, but thinly sliced pot roast style beef..
The singer/guitarist was a nice break from the horrible Mexican pop songs.
It took a long time for anybody to clear away out plates, but our dessert was soon served - a cinnamon pancake with a dollop of Neapolitan ice cream drizzled in honey.
Prices were good, staff was pleasant, and the food was just decent comfort food. This is not outstanding. This is not necessarily something I'd go out of my way for, nor recommend for an "amazing" Mexican restaurant.