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Merced, in the heart of the central San Joaquin valley, is a mis-understood city of 82,000+ residents, especially when it comes to fine dining, as most people bypass Merced for other destinations, such as Turlock or Fresno. When it comes to fine dining, Merced is a "hidden gem," and when it comes to delicious, authentic Mexican cuisine, in a fun, relaxed, family-friendly restaurant, look no further than Los Panchos, in Merced.

As with all of reviews that I publish, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.

Photo:  Late Sunday morning, September 10, 2017, we had actually intended to go to an "old school" diner for breakfast, but after finding several of them with 20 to 30 minute waits, we opted to enjoy breakfast/lunch, or whatever you want to call it, at Los Panchos.  Actually, I wanted to enjoy Mexican cuisine, but I was out-voted by my peers, but not wanting to endure a 20+ minute wait, they agreed to dine at Los Panchos.  Note to self:  I should open a "old school" breakfast and lunch diner in Merced, as that genre is sorely lacking.  Note the Sunday special of menudo for $6.95... how could I pass that by?  Menudo is a Sunday breakfast classic in Mexico, and most of Northern California and beyond...

Photo:  As you enter the restaurant, you'll notice an order counter/cashier's station - not necessary to order at the counter, as Los Panchos is a full-service, sit-down restaurant - and you'll see the semi-open kitchen to the left, if you sneak a peek or two.  I'm not sure why this gal is gesturing at the very patient staff member, but you have to admit that it makes for a dramatic photo.

Photo:  The dining room has a few tables, but is mostly booths, and is very clean and comfortable.  I absolutely LOVE the full-service bar in the rear of the restaurants.  It's around 11 on this mid-September morning, and NFL football is in full swing, but the television monitors are playing soccer instead.  Soft, Mexican "ranchero" music is playing the background, which lends to the traditional Mexican atmosphere.

Photo:  The kitchen is mostly open, so if you're inclined to do so - like I am - you can look into the kitchen and watch the chef, as she prepares your meal.

Photo:  Our friendly server, Destiny, bring's Greg's burrito to him with a smile.  Destiny was friendly, efficient, but not at all intrusive.  

Photo:  My wife, Sharlene, my sister Bonnie, and my brother-in-law Greg, and all of our food, are at the table, and ready to enjoy a delicious breakfast or brunch, or whatever you want to call it.  Neither Bonnie or Sharlene were happy about their photo being taken, but such is the lot in life when you dine with your wife, and your sister.

Photo:  From the "Combination Menu," Sharlene ordered two chilie rellenos, rice, beans, along with a small salad. At the end of the meal, I helped her out by cleaning up most of the rice and beans.

Photo:  Thanks, Greg!  ... who took my photo, as I smile, with my bowl of menudo, along with rolled corn tortillas, beside me, ready to enjoy breakfast.  Actually, it was a little past 11 in the morning, so was it brunch?  Really, since it was a lazy, late Sunday morning in September, labels didn't matter, as what mattered was good food.  Good food is found at Los Panchos!

Photo:  My bowl of menudo, for the bargain-price of $6.95.  This bowl of menudo was amazingly delicious, as the tripe was tender, cooked perfectly - they must have started cooking it the day before - but retained the true flavor of authentic menudo.  The broth was thick - really thick - and more flavorful than some of the best broth that I've enjoyed during my many travels to Mexico, and not spicy hot at all... it was just plain flavorful, and the total package added up to a fantastic bowl of menudo.  As you can see, a full-dish of condiments was offered, on the side.  I loaded 'em all in, with exception of the dried, hot peppers, as I save them for parrots, as they're just too darn not for my tender taste buds.

This was one of the best bowls of menudo that I've enjoyed in a long time, and at $6.95 it was a delicious steal. The only small thing on my wish list would have been to include hominy, but despite the fact that this bowl of menudo didn't have hominy, it was an amazing breakfast.

The full-service bar, and the televisions playing soccer - of you're a soccer fan - are enough to make a stop at Los Panchos worthwhile, but the delicious, authentic Mexican cuisine is the real "hook."  The family-friendly dining room, the friendly service, and the delicious, authentic Mexican food make Los Panchos a must-eat-at destination, if you love Mexican food, and you're in Merced.

Los Panchos
2971 G St.
Merced, CA 95340
209 723-0015

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