The first real food entry on this blog was about looking for Mexican food in San Francisco. I was still a Mexican newbie in those days (a couple of visits to the late Mexican restaurant at the Taj President notwithstanding), so the imagination stretched to Taco Bell and no further. In the intervening years, saints from up and down California have taught me much about Mexican food, specially the kind not hidden under six inches of Kraft cheddar.
Back in Mumbai, I was back to cheesy nachos for many years. One would have thought that with all those chillies and tomatoes and dhania that Mexicans would outsell their northern cousins, but its very hard to get any Mexican in India, even the cheesy fake kinds. The huge plates from TGIF and the occasional short-lived taco place was pretty much all one could hope for. I was wildly excited by the soft tacos at Taco Fresco, but it turned out availability was their primary claim to fame – think, say, chicken tikka in the Antarctic and how pleased you would be even if it tasted like your kid nephew’s pencil eraser.
It was with some understandable scepticism then that I agreed to be fed fish tacos by the very enthusiastic Chef Victor at this new place called Sancho’s. Now there’s a history to this; fish taco is special. Firstly, its completely off the tex-mex menu, so no self-respecting Taco Bell copy will touch it. Second, its a speciality of Baja California – that bit below California that wags like the tail of a dog. I spent a lot of time in San Diego drooling over fish tacos, and I must say the ones that greeted me here were outstanding. Melt-in the mouth, multiple textures, all the sort of thing that makes drooling idiots out of the coolest of us.
As it turns out, Sanchos makes more outstanding Mexican fish classics – Veracruz with its spicy tomato sauce is another favourite of mine on the menu. Recently, Victor came up with an impeccable rendition of Pescado a la Talla, a fish wrapped in chillies, mayonnaise and some other secret stuff and grilled inside a banana leaf – it was a revelation.
Fish is not the only thing he does. Beef, pork, chicken, he has it all (he promises both domestic beef and the double-priced imported version that I have yet to try). The regulars - enchilada, burrito, quesidilla, they're packed neatly into his small menu card.
Yes, the place has flaws. His isn’t the world’s best guacamole (be glad he has it at all). No cabrito (baby goat) on the menu. Only two salsas and six tequilas. The food, however, is authentically Mexican – with all the right chillies and some classic Mexican dishes – quite worth more than a few visits