March 10, 2006
choices satisfy many tastes
A Mexican restaurant should know how to make a good margarita and guacamole. It’s just a basic requirement if the establishment is going to attract patrons looking for south-of-the-border food and drink. Panzon’s, 8710 Lackman Rd., Lenexa, KS, does it well.
Their margarita ($5.50) arrives in a tall glass with just the right combination of mouth-puckering citrus and seductive tequila. On two visits, the guacamole ($3.75) was fresh, chunky and flavorful, and salted deftly, though without heat. It arrived on a small bed of lettuce that did become difficult to avoid as the volume dwindled.
Smooth, pleasantly spicy taco sauce accompanied warm, freshly fried taco chips. Minced jalapeños arrived on the side, and Cheryl added some to a small bowl of sauce. The chips left oil on our fingers during our second meal.
Our foursome shared Panzon’s Cheese Dip ($3.65), and Stuffed Jalapeños ($4.75). The mellow, thick and moderately spicy dip was full of red pepper and spinach bits. The batter-dipped and fried jalapeños were perfectly crisp and encased plenty of molten cheese.
Panzon’s offers appetizers for one to two people, or for two or more people. During our second visit, Mark and I ordered Garden Veggie Quesadilla for two ($4.25; $7.75 for the larger serving) and had plenty to eat when paired with our entrées. Onion, zucchini, carrot and green pepper bits combined with melted cheese that oozed from four lightly grilled tortilla wedges. Small scoops of sour cream and guacamole accompanied the quesadillas.
Cheryl’s Two Spinach Enchiladas ($6.80) were a table favorite during our first visit. Soft, creamy black beans and fluffy rice accompanied two flour tortillas bursting with Chihuahua and pepper jack cheese, and spinach. Shredded lettuce, tomato bits and sour cream garnished the dish.
Tequila Lime Chicken ($8.25) featured a plump breast that nicely complemented my margarita. Mild green chili sauce, melted Chihuahua cheese, red onion, tomato and cilantro topped the meat, which also arrived with corn-, pea- and carrot-studded rice.
Kenny ordered a platter with tamale, cheese and onion enchilada and a pork burrito ($9.75). The tamale wrapped moist and flavorful shredded pork in 1/8-inch masa batter. His shredded pork burrito tasted bland. Kenny’s enchilada had a pleasant flavor but paled in comparison to Cheryl’s.
Mark’s Baja Taco Combo ($8.50) included Fajita Beef, Carnitas, Roasted Pork and Chicken tacos. Even with a generous spoonful of ultra-fresh pico de gallo added, the chicken taco lacked flavor. Mark also received a side of rice.
During our second visit, he ordered individual Fajita Beef, Carnitas and Fish Tacos ($2.10, each). The fajita beef had a robust flavor and pleasant mouth feel. Big chunks of moist pork, and coarsely grated Chihuahua cheese characterized the Carnitas. The final taco featured a huge, batter-fried piece of fish and shredded cabbage.
I ordered Santa Fe Montodas ($7.25). A layer of black beans hid between two corn tortillas, which were topped with a generous helping of large chicken chunks. Mellow chili verde sauce and a spicy enchilada sauce, melted cheese and a handful of scallion bits topped it all. A fried egg with fairly hard center seemed an incongruous final topper. Rice accompanied the dish.
During each meal, we surveyed the red and teal walls, ceramic suns, prints by renowned New Mexico artist, R.C. Gorman, and one high shelf after another full of brightly painted, handcrafted Mexican figures surrounded us.
Unfortunately, both the ladies’ and the men’s restrooms were unkempt during our Saturday evening meal. There were also a few service glitches. Kenny’s margarita arrived with salt, when he had requested no salt. Our waitress was slow to take our order during the second meal — although the appetizer arrived quickly — and slow to refill water glasses.
Panzon’s offers special lunch prices, Monday through Friday, and beef tacos are six for $6 on Monday and Tuesday. Drink specials include $3 off pitchers of beer on Sunday and Monday. Margarita Madness is on Wednesdays, with discounts for margaritas on the rocks by the glass or pitcher.
Panzon’s Cheese Dip, Stuffed Jalapeños and Spinach Enchiladas shine in this Mexican menu full of choices to suit everyone’s taste.
Lisa Waterman Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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