Craving a fajita or a taco, a burrito or a Margarita? Well, you don’t have to put on a sombrero and catch the next flight to Mexico. Sancho’s, an all-authentic Tex-Mex eatery by the owners of Aurus, the Dish Hospitality group, guarantees to satisfy you. It’s no surprise that even seven months after opening, you still have to book in advance to get a table at this posh sub-urban restaurant.
Location makes all the difference and Sancho’s has got it right, standing at the junction of Khar 15th Road and Pali Hill, on Hinduja Road, Khar West, Mumbai. They first opened in Delhi two and a half years ago and are currently relocating in the capital. I’ve heard Rahul Gandhi was a regular there. In Mumbai, it attracts the who’s who, not to mention a string of Bollywood celebrities—Katrina Kaif, Salman Khan, Deepika Padukone, Imran Khan, Preity Zinta, Ritiesh Deshmukh and Genelia D'souza just to name a few.
Big wooden doors open to a very earthy ambience, recreating the feel of a ‘Mexican Cantina’ with stucco walls, wooden furniture, rustic wooden bar tops, tables inlaid with fiesta ceramics, gaily patterned tableware and colourful chairs. Flooded with sunlight during the day, the space is split into two sections by a pretty wall of undulating glass panes.
The Dish Hospitality group was serious when they said they wanted the restaurant to be the most authentic Mexican restaurant in India, so they imported their chef along with the ingredients from Mexico. I had a chance to chat with Chef Victor Mancilla, who shared a couple of things with me. “I don’t believe in coincidences; I believe in my religious past. I was in a seminary… and India has such a religious base too. The first time I came to Mumbai, I was welcomed by the Ganpati festival… walking through the crowd, touching religious belief, the euphoria, it was such a great beginning. From there I went to Delhi, where Sancho’s first opened. Later I came to Mumbai to open up the restaurant here. Mumbai is far more challenging, and in a way Delhi prepared me for it.”
He went on to add, “Mexico and India have so much in common— they are both religious; they have strong family values, respect for elders and for knowledge, and above all gastronomically. For example, in India you have chapatis, which are akin to Mexican tortillas. A burrito resembles a Frankie or Tikka roll. Curries are comparable to Mole. They have common ingredients too like corn, kidney beans, tomatoes, coriander and cumin. Even the cooking methods are alike—braising and the use of banana leaves for wrapping and steaming.”
Chef Victor is very particular about what goes into his food. He uses dry Mexican chillis, specially smoked in fragrant woods, to achieve the right flavour in a particular recipe. He has tie-ups with the Mexican Embassy to ensure he receives ingredients from his native land. In total, they import 29 herbs and spices, corn flour and cheeses. He’s also promoting growing Mexican chillis, corn and herbs in India with the Rajiv Gandhi Fund in Rae Bareli. Rahul encouraged Victor in this endeavour. For now in Mumbai, Chef Victor grows chillis, tomatoes, oregano, Mediterranean parsley, tomatillos in his backyard.
On asking why the tortillas at Sanchos are so different— crunchy, airy, thin, flaky and subtle in contrast to the ones available elsewhere in India—Chef Victor explains, “Different soil produces different corn. The moisture, altitude, nutrients make so much of a difference. I make my chips from the corn imported from Mexico and that explains why each chip costs me Rs 30. So if you order extra chips, we charge you for it.”
Sancho’s has an impressive drinks menu too. The most popular ones are the fresh fruit margaritas—they come in Kiwi, Strawberry and seasonal fruit flavours. Sancho’s also flaunts a Cactus (tequila) Bar where you could, among the finest tequila, spot a bottle of Don Julio or a Petrone. Cocktails that you would love are Cancun Tea—a tall drink which is a blend of tequila, vodka, white rum, gin, triple sec and orange juice. Another delicious cocktail is Tequila Veracruz, a blend of tequila, white rum, vodka and coconut & pomegranate-flavoured lime. Cartel Conversation—a blend of white rum, dark rum. cranberry juice and rich cream. You must try the Campache Bay Margarita, a salty mix of tequila, triple sec, gin, rum and raspberry syrup or even Tequila Chachalaca, a menthol tequila with sweet ‘n’ sour mix. Their daiquiris and sangrias are also a rage with the regulars.
Dishes you must try are the Chicken habanero (spicy), Molletes, Fish Taquitos, Mexican Prawns Quesadillas, Lamb barbacoa, Mushroom epazote quesadillas, Exotic vegetable tacos, Vegetable fajitas, Vera cruz fish. Mole, one of Sancho’s signature dishes, is a Mexican sauce made with chillis and a hint of chocolate drizzled over your choice of meat. Fiesta nachos are a guarantee at every vegetarian table—refried beans at bottom, topped with the regular corn chips and vegetable-infused corn chips, guacamole, sour cream, salsa and jalapeños, cheese. What’s great about the dishes is that all the sauces are done differently.
To end your meal just as satisfactorily, Sancho’s serves Tres Leches, a cake moistened with three types of milk and Caramel Fajitas. My favourite are the Churros with chocolate. The Churros are served piping hot, coated with cinnamon and sugar, magically crisp and tender at the same time. Served with a rich, silky and thick chocolate sauce, this guarantees you a trip to heaven and back. In short, while dining at Sancho’s, you know you are eating the best Mexican food served in the country.
Tejsinghani is the author of Aapplemint, a travel, food and photography blog
Chipotle chicken skewers
Chipotle in Adobo Sauce (available at Nature’s Basket)
Open tin and blend, adding 50 ml of honey and salt at taste.
Chicken breast: 200 gms
Marinate the chicken with the chili base and grill.
Serve with shredded lettuce as a bed and chopped onion, tomato, pineapple, green chilli and coriander on top.