As I walked into an unfamiliar restaurant with my eager father, I was not expecting much of the food or atmosphere. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the waiters, the variety of food on the menu, and the comfortable atmosphere.
Panfila Restaurant and Cantina serves authentic Mexican cuisine in a small, electric setting. The restaurant is small and has a modern feel, decorated with a rose-filled wall with a neon sign that says ‘loved by all’ that customers can snap a picture in front of. Additionally, there is space outside to be seated under the sunlight while enjoying the meal.
Panfila is open for brunch and dinner. Restaurant hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.
The dinner menu boasts classic dishes, including Mexican street corn, Al Pastor mini tacos, Carne Asada, and enchiladas verdes.
I first tried the Mexican street corn off of the appetizer menu, which had queso fresco, chipotle mayo, and lime. Panfila nailed the charred flavor of the corn, but I do wish it had more lime or the addition of cilantro to brighten up the flavor.
For the entree, I ordered the enchiladas poblanas filled with chicken, which was served with Mexican rice and refried beans. The chicken was tender and flavorful, while the tortilla blanketing the enchilada was artistically drizzled with sour cream and sprinkled with queso fresco and corn. The flavors were cohesive and collectively pretty decent.
I was disappointed with the flavor and texture of the sides of the Mexican rice and refried beans. The queso fresco felt unnecessary on the beans, as it already coated the rest of the meal. Moreover, the rice was extremely dry and bland; it felt as if it were instant rice. A good Mexican rice should be soft and complemented with bell peppers and onion.
You can’t leave a restaurant after a stressful day without first rewarding yourself with a dessert. So that’s exactly what I did. I ordered gansito, which is a chocolate cake, layered with jam and whipped cream, topped with chocolate ganache and fruit. I also stole bites from my dad’s tres leches. The gansito was very vibrant in flavor, almost overpowering, while the tres leches was just sweet enough and much easier on the stomach.
The taste of the food itself was a 7/10. The presentation of the food, however, was absolutely beautiful. Not only was the tableware aesthetically pleasing, but the food was carefully arranged to be perfectly Instagrammable. I would give presentation a 10/10.
Overall, Panfila Restaurant and Cantina offered a pleasant experience, but the food missed the mark for me to choose to come back. If I were to return, I would likely choose a shrimp taco with more citrusy flavors, because the main reason the food didn’t satisfy me was because it all had the same charred, rich flavors that made it hard to distinguish from the appetizer to entree.