Don Pancho Villa (189 Borinquen Place, Brooklyn; 718-388-4552) is a new Williamsburg restaurant that prompts a double-take. Located on a block of Grand Street just east of the BQE, it sports a wooden frame flashing its name in neon and a small parking lot; it looks as if it was sucked up from a suburban mall in Denver and plunked into Brooklyn.
The restaurant is an expanded concept of the former Don Pancho Villa, which sat on the opposite side of the street, a couple blocks farther east, and did mostly takeout. When a new apartment building went up nearby, the owners jumped into the ground level, building out a bar and circular booths and mounting flat-screen televisions.
The menu has grown as well, from rudimentary Tex-Mex to more elaborate fare. Green plantains are fried into cones and filled with burrito stuffings. Stuffed mushrooms, vegetable tempura, and mini chimichangas are among the appetizers. There are hefty taco salads, straightforward burgers, and “magic” burritos ($9.95).
On a recent visit, a plate of enchiladas suizas ($10.95) in green sauce, dribbled with crema, flanked by rice, beans, and pico de gallo, included a puzzling strip of beef among the cuts of chicken. All of the specialty cocktails skew sweet, like the Brooklyn Delicious, with apple, Jack Daniel’s Honey, cinnamon, and sparkling wine ($12), or the Gunsmoke, with orange marmalade, mezcal, tequila, and St. Germaine ($10). Drinks are half-price during happy hour, though, so you can be transported out of the neighborhood and into an airport bar, if only for an hour or two.
Scarlett Lindeman is a Brooklyn-based writer covering the city’s best taquerias, fondas, and cantinas. She writes the ¡Oye! Comida column for Fork in the Road.