The Mexican cuisine, by itself, creates certain expectations, which Sofa de Pancho manages to meet for a sixth consecutive year, and only better every year. The restaurant’s owner Diana knows Mexico and its tastes very well. She used to live there for more than two years and still goes there and travels in that country, communicates with local residents and brings back even more inspiration, ideas and warmth.
Diana can talk about the culture of Mexico for a long time, and in particular, about its cuisine. Regular customers got used to that – they usually do not read the menu, because any member of the team of Sofa de Pancho can explain it in detail.
Sofa de Pancho is an excellent example of how a family restaurant should operate: here, it is cosy, unique, perfectly delicious and the concept of family is extensive. In this restaurant, the family includes everybody who is a part of Sofa de Pancho.
As it should be on the menu inspired by Mexico, it is dominated by dishes from fish and seafood, it also includes meat dishes, and the restaurant prepares different sauces from fresh vegetables and, certainly, corn tortillas.
The restaurant’s menu is updated twice a year, however, every day the kitchen offers a special dish of the day which is not on the menu. There are also dishes which are always on the menu here. Without them, Mexico would not be Mexico, and a restaurant could not be called a Mexican one.
Thus, such stable mandatory dishes on the menu include a chilli stew, nachos (almost every visitor orders them as a snack) and tacos. This season’s menu includes more marine dishes, i.e. tacos with shrimps, fish tacos, mussels, fajitas with seafood, etc.
It is a myth that the Mexican cuisine is spicy. This is not the most striking feature of this cuisine. Besides, dishes are as spicy as a visitor wants them to be. For instance, in this restaurant, like in Mexico, tacos are usually served with many different sauces and dips, which the eaters place on the main dish according to the desired spiciness and taste. In general, as for the Mexican cuisine – many different ingredients of a dish provide a possibility to try a variety of tastes.
Since the restaurant is located close to the Halė market, a day of the kitchen team starts not in the restaurant, but in the market looking for the freshest products. Certainly, when you want to re-create a cuisine of a far-away country, you have to bring a lot of products from abroad, too. By the way, at the same time the owners bring more tequila, tortillas, beer syrups, juice and other original Mexican products for those who would like to buy them and taste them at home.
Even though in the majority of restaurants a drink list is dominated by wine, at Sofa de Pancho the queen of drinks, certainly, is tequila. By the way, a lot of attention here is also paid to beer. The owners import about 16 different sorts of Mexican beer. They also produce their own beer. For instance, a corn lager named Pancho and Chipotle Porter.
However, tequila is still the most popular drink here. Besides, visitors are even often offered to have tequila instead of a dessert. Before, the restaurant had about 100 sorts of tequila and up to 10 different sorts of mezcal. Currently they have a little less, but the selection is still impressive. In addition to tequila, mezcal and beer, here you can enjoy excellent cocktails and sangria. These are especially popular in summer.
Before, the building of Sofa de Pancho used to house a shoe shop, even previously – a book shop, before the book shop it was somebody’s apartment, while in the 17th century – a Carmelite monastery.
In September 2016, the restaurant Sofa de Pancho expanded its operation by opening a Mexico-inspired snack-bar in one of the business centres of Vilnius. The principle is simple – visitors create Mexico themselves, i.e. they compose their tacos themselves. By the way, this snack-bar, which is open only during lunch time, operates on the principle of “you eat as much as you want”.
Even though Sofa de Pancho is a restaurant, however, many things here are different from what is expected of a restaurant. For instance, visitors are taught to eat with their hands. Sometimes waiters even do not bring cutlery at all. It is without cutlery that this food is eaten in a far-away Mexico.