If you grew up in Santa Monica, you've probably eaten at Pancho's Tacos. It originally opened in 1977, in a small strip mall on the corner of
Pico Lincoln and Ocean Park, where it pleased locals and their kids, who scarfed down tacos and burritos, sipped Orange Bang and pumped quarters into the Ms. Pac-Man machine. After a two-and-a-half-year closure (thanks to the arrival of Blockbuster Video, which replaced the entire corner), Pancho's re-opened at another location in Santa Monica and the patrons quickly returned. “You never really appreciate your customers,” owner José Moya said, “until they come back to you.” Now, he's seeing if he can have similar luck expanding to Venice Boulevard, where it takes over the old Campos spot.
Located just blocks from the main drag of downtown Culver City, and the more upscale lunch zone at Fraiche, Akasha, Tender Greens and Ford's Filling Station, Pancho's is a bit of comfort food. It's a place for locals to grab lunch, or really, for anyone who hates this economy and wants to eat a hearty, filling meal without having to pay a double-digit bill. The King Taco, a behemoth precursor to Taco Bell's Double Decker Taco, is just $3.50, and their famous jumbo burrito a mere $5.50.
“Culver City is a pretty good opportunity for Pancho's,” Moya said. “There are a lot of people that love Pancho's, but they can't go all the way to Santa Monica. Once we put the sign up, they started eating here right away. They trust Pancho's and that makes me feel good.” Will it work? “I hope so. I'll know one way or the other in about six months.”
Pancho's Tacos: 9609 Venice Blvd., Culver City; (310) 204-3222.