Panchita’s: Serving Smoky Skewers in Makati for 20 YearsJune 3, 2016
Makati city is best known for its high-rising towers and commercial centers. But in terms of food, we usually tend to look to the Legazpi and Salcedo village areas, where all the hip and trendy cafes and restaurants put up shop. Hole In the Wall has also gained a huge following over the past couple of years, and is quite the popular foodie destination. However, not all the best food the city has to offer is found in the trendy side of town or on Instagram geotags, nor are they all found on “best food” lists online.
Hidden in a small cranny at one of Makati’s narrower streets is a barbecuing legend in the making. Having been in the business since 1957 as Pancho’s, named after the Margallo family patriarch, Panchita’s (officially established in 1986) has been run as part of the family tradition. With its recipes passed down from generation to generation, it remains one of the favorite of many office-workers around the J. Victor street area, and is a name known to people in that part of Makati. Uniform-clad groups don’t mind the smoky smell, or going back to the office smelling like they just came from their lunch break, when they taste the smoky skewered specialties of the Margallos.
They might not have too big of a space, with only a number of plastic tables and mono block chairs set-up, but Panchita’s packs a lot when it comes to their food. In the usual turo-turo or carinderia fashion, they serve some of the classics like adobo and nilaga. One of the specials that the eatery swears by is their ginataang page (stingray cooked in coconut milk) at Php 40 a serving. The dish is slightly spicy, with a taste quite similar to that of a Bicol Express. What is quite striking is really the soft and silky texture of the page, and how smoothly it goes down.
Although the seafood delicacy, and other items on offer, are popular with the customers, the restaurant is truly most known for its meals on barbecue sticks. They’ve got everything from chicken’s gizzards and intestines, to livers and hearts at Php 15 a stick. First dipped in a soy sauce and calamansi marinade, and then heated atop their charcoal grill, the fare at this ghetto grub destination is best eaten with Panchita’s special sweet sauce, some vinegar, poured over a steaming cup of rice. A cold bottle of soda to drink completes the entire meal. But it is also perfectly fine to eat everything it as it is, a la carte on a stick just like you would for any other street food cart.
With only a hundred pesos in my pocket, I managed to leave with a full stomach. There is no doubt that Panchita’s deserves to be called like it is: sulit. Although it’s no newfound work of culinary genius, Panchita’s can still give fancy and flowery city food a run for its money. It doesn’t have any new gimmicks or flashy twists to recipes, but instead simply gives customers a great experience with old flavors.