Located in Mayaguez; Calle McKinely
Legend has it that the restaurant known as Sancho Panza was started when the chefs from the restuarant Don Quijote got pissed off with the management and opened a place just down and across the street. It is also said that then the chefs from Sancho Panza got pissed at the management and opened another restaurant across the street again. This is how then there are several places right in a row with the same cuisine.
Just so it can’t be said that I don’t enjoy local food. I do, although this wouldn’t be exactly where I would get it. However, for mofongo al pilon, these are the places to go. Mofongo is fried plaintains smooshed into a container, then filled with meat and broth. In Sancho Panza, they serve it “al pilon” which means you get these 3 goblets of food. One has mofongo, another the meat of your choice and the third is with either vegetable both or chicken broth. The way you eat them is that you mix and dip at your leisure. A very delicious deal for under six bucks. I don’t order this all the time, just when the mood strikes me, but… if you are doing a gastronomical tour of the island, mofongo is a must have.
The reason I’m fond of Sancho Panza in particular (Don Quiote has the same exact menu.. and I mean this literally since they look exactly the same and are probably printed by the same people) is their pizza. As a New Yorker, I pride myself on hunting for THE best pizza this island has to offer. I must admit that nothing is truly up to scratch, not when you’ve been spoiled with the best like I have. However, when you’ve lived somewhere for a decade, you become desperate enough to try and recreate the feeling and the taste. In the west coast, as far as I know, Sancho Panza has the best pizza. It’s moderately priced and just the largest hunk of slices with mega toppings… as pizza should be. I’m a traditionalist and I stick to my pizza having just cheese but everyone else seems to like the pepperoni. That’s all well and good for them, but I’ll have things my way. I ofer a large pizza and then proceed to gorge on the slices morning, noon and night until the pie is all done. Nothing better than cold pizza in the morning.
Another favorite is the appetizer platter. A large platter could well be a meal unto itself with chucks of fried chicken and pork, sorullos (fried cornmeal sticks), and fried cheese. The fried cheese is what I absolutely love. It’s this white cheese just fried in chunks, no breading needed. It seems to hold together and have the right amount of meltiness to it that makes it just divine.
The service is fast an friendly and the desserts are simple and delicious. Great place to walk in spur of the moment, very family-friendly. A real local treasure!