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Mar 29, 2006

Pancho Lopez Mexican/Latin Buffet


News Note:
  Lunch here at Pancho Lopez this Sunday, 2 April, 11:30 a.m. followed by a one block walk to LocoPops.  Let me know if you're coming or just show up!


Latino food.  More and more of it.  Right here in Durham. 

I'm loving it, and don't be surprised if you see more and more blog reports of Latino restaurants/trailers from around town.

Last Sunday I ate pata de puerco, sopes, potatoes with chorizo, alambre (pork, chicken, sausage, veggies and cheese), tamales, beef tongue stew, and lamb barbecue.  All pretty yummy, and all in one meal at the first and one and only Mexican/Latin buffet in town.

Introducing: Pancho Lopez!!!

Like most buffets, food quality seems to range from "pretty darned good" to "just OK" depending on the dish and how soon it's come from the kitchen.  They offer more on the weekends ($9.99 for the buffet) than during weekday lunch ($5.99).  I haven't tried the weekday (M-Th) dinner yet ($8.89).

Pancho Lopez opened in late February in the old China Inn edifice in Old West Durham, at the corner of Trent St. and Hillsborough Rd, just one block from the esteemed (and still somewhat new) LocoPops.

As best as anyone knows, Pancho Lopez is the only Latin American buffet* in the area, and they're working to get established quickly. They've painted the insides in sweet potato orange and covered the walls with odds and ends of Mexican art and added a credit card machine.  The carpet is new and I'm hoping that they'll start selling beer which would make the lingering Chinese woodwork and furniture not look so strange draped with Mexican flags.**

I do hope this restaurant will take off.  The owners seem to be approaching things professionally, so there's reason for hope.  Let's keep our fingers crossed.


*FYI: you don't have to speak Spanish to eat here.  (Nor Chinese.)

**Anyone remember the old Marco Polo restaurant on 15-501?  The one that served Italian and Chinese food?  Sure you do.  Anyway -- what Spanish/Chinese travelers do you know of -- or was Pancho Lopez just such a person?

11:51 AM in Destination Durham, Reviews | Permalink


You know I'll be there...and thanks for the email heads up, darlin! I just hope they have some shrimp cocktail. Rowr.

Posted by: Jenny P. | Mar 29, 2006 1:07:01 PM

I might see you there on Sunday . I have driven by that place and wondered if it was "safe" to eat in ? Sounds like it is.
have you been to this place.....

I am hoping their hot pork dish is hot enough for
me. Adios.

Posted by: Fritz | Mar 29, 2006 9:20:36 PM

I ate at Marco Polo! A looooooong time ago. I think I might have even been on a date with the boy I moved here with. And if it was with him, it was a loooooong time ago.

Posted by: pinky | Mar 29, 2006 10:30:37 PM

Fritz -- Hope to see you there! And no, I haven't yet been to Thai Cafe (well technically I was there, but only long enough to see that the line was too long for my schedule) but have heard nothing but very very good. Hope to try it soon.

Pinky -- Looooong time ago, indeed. Now it's an adult video/clothing store called "Cherry Pie." (Or else that's what's next door, I'm not completely sure.)

Posted by: Phil | Mar 30, 2006 9:59:03 AM

I remember the existence of Marco Polo, but I never ate there. I think there's a Mexican restaurant there now. "Cherry Pie" is next door.

It is likely that I will be there for lunch on Sunday. Fun fact: "Pancho Lopez" is the title of a 1955 song by Lalo Guerrero. It was a parody of "The Ballad of Davy Crockett," set to the tune of that song. That's the best Google can come up with on the matter.

Posted by: Jerry | Mar 30, 2006 11:35:11 AM

I'll show my age here: not only do I remember Marco Polo, but I remember The Country Squire, which was in the same building before Marco Polo (there may have been an intermediate rastaurant, or not).

There's a good chance I won't make lunch, but rather than say no, I'll say maybe, and leave myself the possibility of showing up.

Posted by: Joseph H. Vilas | Mar 30, 2006 5:55:48 PM