HOME > Chowhound > New Orleans >


Panchos is Back!!!

There opening on Labarre rd where the Ho Ho Chinese buffet was!!!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Whoo hooo! I have very fond memories of eating at the one in the CBD 79-84. Did you go to this location? It was a 2 story high restaurant that was decorated to make you feel like you were sitting on a cantina patio in Old Mexico & those cheese enchiladas - yumm! I'll have to check it out next time I'm home. They used to have one in Chalmette that became Hawg's Urban Cowboy saloon where we spent many a Wednesday night drinking longnecks, listening to great local bands and taking free dance lessons - but I digress... Thanks so much for the update - raise the sopapilla flag!

    2 Replies
    1. re: ImissMcKenzies

      did the CBD location later become the Hobnobber on Gravier? I remember that place having a faux 2-story courtyard.

      1. re: edible complex

        Geez that's another blast from the past - loved that place too! Yes I'm pretty sure that's where it was.

    2. Wunnaful, Wunnful, as Lawrence Welk would say==this is great news, me and my good friend GHLIII would go there often, and baby, we'd chow DOWN, you feel me? Then back home to watch football like a pair of beached whales.

      But y the way: the magnificent Pancho's location onf gravier was serendipity for them:
      it was formerly the premier Morrison's cafeteria in this city, the favorite eating spot of my parents when they went downtown; and Morrison's was in many ways, at it's best, comparable to Wise's. Particularly the trout almadine, really excellent.

      My first spanish lesson was there, in an inscription over one of the doors:
      V INOS FINOS DE MESA> (Fine table wines) But the whole place was very picturesque.

      Panchos is back! Wonderful! I remember at one of my Jenny Craig sessions, they mentioned the chile relleno was an example of a food that violated almost every one of their diet rules.

      Naturally, that had always been one of my favorite dishes there.

      We await developments!

      1. I dropped by the Labarre & Airline location to check on the progress of NO's guiltiest pleasure. There were almost a dozen notes posted to the door, begging them to reopen soon and wishing them well. Amongst them:

        "My girlfriend and I loved your restaurant. She's pregnant now and we hope you open soon".

        Probably because she's eating for two. Lucky girl.But somewhat more mystifying was:

        "Good news My friends and I will come and puta hurt on yr kitchen"

        Which caused me some pondering, considering the meaning of the word "puta."

        Until I realized the problem was penmanship--he meant "put a hurt on your kitchen."

        I might send some of those things. to FOUND magazine.

        1 Reply
        1. re: underworld gourmet

          Yes, penmanship can often get one into deep trouble. Always write legibly and articulate your thoughts clearly, or you may get a knock on the door, late one night.

          Thanks for sharing, as I got rather a laugh out of those notes.


        2. Is this a good thing, or are you issuing a warning? I remember when their first NOLA location opened, what, about 500 Common St? It was hot with some circles, but I never found the charm. I'm guessing that this was about 1968 thru 1974?

          In most areas that I have lived since, they (Pancoho's) have come, and they have gone. I do not believe they have ever come back, but could have missed it.

          Personally, I found Taco Tico on Vet's Hwy. (in those days) to be far better. Also, back then, El Chico (Westbank and the other end of Vet's) was far superior by my palate, and probably less expensive for a full meal.

          Maybe I just missed something with the Pancho's-thing. Wouldn't be unlikely, as much seems to go over my head, especially with the popularity of some restaurants.

          Just curious,


          13 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt

            Without venturing a view as to the quality, you gotta admit that the flag is fun.

            1. re: hazelhurst

              Kinda' reminds me of the little flag on the cabaƱa chairs, by the pool. Need a drink - run the flag up, and a server will be at your side in a moment.

              I thought that Pancho's had pioneered the flag, but when we moved to Denver, we were informed that Casa Bonita (then a fixture for maybe 40 years) had come up with that idea. Also, the indoor cliff divers, right next to many of the tables.

              Yes, we are all possibly better off to not discuss the food.


              1. re: Bill Hunt

                There was a great South Park episode highlighting Casa Bonita a few seasons back. It was depicted as this magical paradise and Cartman went to quite the lengths to make sure he was able to go.

              1. re: Robert Peyton

                Can we chalk this Pancho's madness to some sort of post-Katrina fit of nostalgia? The place ALWAYS sucked (though I can't vouch for the original downtown location), but it does represent the return of a place many thought had gone for good.

                1. re: Hungry Celeste

                  I think that is exactly what it is. I know I ventured in there at some point pre-K, just because a friend and I were driving by and decided to stop in. It was everything I remembered from my days at LSU when a Pancho's was located on Nicholson Drive not far off campus. Bad food, but as much as you could eat for a cheap price. It definitely had it's purpose.

                  1. re: roro1831

                    I'll never forget some friends of mine taking a cousin's pug with them to the Nicholson location back in the day and no one that worked there batted an eye...

                    I think of the place as more a rite of passage than anything else: you leave feeling like hell and the fact that the pain can be attributed to overeating rather than actually being food poisoning somehow made going back once in a while okay.

                    That having been said, my stomach has built up its defenses to the point where it will be convincing my hand to raise the flag very soon.


                    1. re: thecajunfoodie

                      Sadly, I have heard you only raise the flag for dessert and drinks. The place is set up buffet style.

                      1. re: roro1831

                        How does that work? I am finding it hard to remember? I KNOW that they would do refills or sopapillas when the flag was raised, but am pretty positive that if after eating the 6 or 7 items including the rice and beans that you initially picked from the buffet that they would bring more. Anyone been there recently and know the answer to this?

                        1. re: ScarlettNola

                          It used to be that more of whatever you asked for would be brought to you. If the new style of service has changed to only refills and additional sopapillas upon raising the flag, I have one more reason to stay away.

                          I think my stomach just voiced its thanks for my having typed that...


                          1. re: ScarlettNola

                            I know that they used to do it where they did drink refills, sopapillas and refills on food. My dad used to raise the flag for more rellenos every time we went. Not sure if its this way now but I would assume so.

                            1. re: jmorri26

                              The new way is not the same as it once once. You raise the flag when you want refills or sopapillas. The rest is set up like a typical chinese buffet, you want more food, you go get it. NOLA.com had an article about it today and there are posts concerning this.

                    2. re: Hungry Celeste

                      Perhaps it is nostalgia. My childhood palate is probably a bit different than it is now. But I have great memories of Friday evening, the little flag on the table and gorging myself on sopapillas and LOVING IT! In fact, I loved the waitresses costumes/uniforms so much that I (at age 6 or 7) wanted to be a waitress at PAnchos just for the outfits. I am certain my kids will love it as well.

                2. I am SO excited. As a kid, we used to get these "free meal at Poncho's" coupons for good grades. My father used to take us, because my mother was (and remains today) disgusted by it. I think he took her on a date there at one point in their courtship.

                  Me, I'll be taking my man there as soon as it open. We love both the highbrow and the lowbrow. Other Chile Rellenos have never matched up the Poncho's, imo. Even the super expensive one I had at Taqueros Coyochon. Hahaha,

                  1. This is the same Panchos all you can eat buffet that used to be on Veterans (where circuit city is now)?! I am so excited. I heard it opens on the 30th.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jamtart

                      I went by Pancho's new location on Airline, ready to sit down, scarft down enchilads and chilles rellenos and two kinds of chile stew and of course sopapillias with honey, but there was a problem: a 3-4 hour wait outside. I'm not kidding. It made Galatoire's on Friday look like a fast food joint. It's going to be a while before I can get a sample.

                      1. re: underworld gourmet

                        But as much as I love the place, Galatoire's doesn't have the little flags...

                    2. Now this is exciting news. I am craving the flautas and sopapillas with honey. I am gonna "raise my flag" to this development! Yay!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ScarlettNola

                        Now guess what. My previous post, noting the 3-4 hour wait and the immense line, was posted about 2:00 p.m. I drove pas the place again at about :7:30 and guess what? The line is just as long and so is the wait.

                        I've never seen this for a restaurant before.

                        1. re: underworld gourmet

                          Let alone for a crappy buffet style restaurant.

                          1. re: underworld gourmet

                            I suppose a lot of it has to do with the rock bottom price. I checked out the website and the dinner buffet is 7.99, lunch 5.99, and children's buffet is $3.99. In these rough economic times, you are getting a lot of bang for your buck . As much as I love Panchos, NOTHING could justify a 3-4 hour wait. Guess I will wait until the hype dies down. But there is still no mention of the NOLA location on the website and yet people are coming in droves.

                        2. Can somebody post the actual addresses? I only ever went to the Vets location but when I'm in town next month I know what Im going to eat!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jmorri26

                            The address is 100 N. Labarre. I could not find a phone number

                          2. I went to Panchos for a trip down memory lane and was a little sad that things were not as I remembered. We waited for over an hour with all 5 of our children and I was so excited as I have not been there since I was a child. The buffet is all self-serve(besides the taco bar) and the flag is only for sopapillas. The food was utterly tasteless, the place packed to the gills, and the air conditioner not working properly. Everyone else (my husband and children) loved it as they have no memory of how "wonderful" things were "back in the day" . I guess what was great as a child does not translate into what I prefer as an adult. I will say that I am actively seeking franchise information as the owners must be making a killing! I probably won't be back unless my kids beg. It is not worth the 2 hour wait.........

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: ScarlettNola

                              I went to "New Panchos" a few weekends ago. I agree 100% with ScarlettNola...very underwhelming. We had no wait and went about 6pm, so I guess the hype has died down. The self serve factor was a issue as I had screaming kids and rude people just push in front of you to get things in "line". There's no line to speak of actually, just kind of push up where you want to go and schlub food on your plate. The food was...actually pretty gross! I LOVED Panchos as a kid but the flautas were all fried til they were burnt, the enchiladas weren't covered in their old sauces so much as semi-transparent various colored flavorless goop (reminded me in movies when they talk about gruel) I'm not a relleno fan but I was told they were still good, aside from the way nasty nacho cheese on top. Tacos are still good. The sopapillas are still fantastic, with the squeezy thing of honey on each table- we got back our price of meal in sopapillas alone! The one other thing that was a bit offputting was the mass quantities of waitresses (since theyre just looking for flags to go up for refills and sopapillas, they were all standing feet from you eating, staring at you. Very awkward.) And there was easily 10 waitresses in an area of maybe 15 tables and they were all yelling at each other about who can have the next big family that comes in.

                              I loved Panchos as a kid. And I might go back but its a shame such a good thing has changed.

                              1. re: jmorri26

                                I am glad I am not the only one to feel this way. I kept telling my kids how great it was and they are "jr foodies" so were less than impressed. They did love (as I did as well) the sopapillas and honey. That alone made the trip worth it. It seemed so chaotic as well with the self serve and unsanitary to boot. The tacos were good, but note that they were made by the staff, and not slopped on a plate by patrons. It remained me of a nursing home mexican buffet (as if!) Very bland, tasteless, and blah. Oh well. I may get sopapillas to go!

                                1. re: ScarlettNola

                                  Haven't been there but I think I'll pass. Some memories of youth are best left as memories. Something tells me what tasted good to me at age 8 might not be so "delicious" to me now. Afterall, I used to think hamburger helper lasagna and fried bologna were amazing.