People often ask me why I don’t eat beef. I simply don’t like the texture and taste. However, the Plato de Carne Asada at Sancho’s is the exception to my beef avoidance.
Sancho’s is a small, Mexican restaurant hidden in the shopping center on Iris and 28th by the DMV. It used to be called 100% Mexicano, but after the building flooded, it re-opened under a new name. The concept remains the same: quick, fresh, and affordable Mexican fare.
The restaurant is most known for its tacos, tortas and gorditas, which are well-priced, quickly made and are a great lunch. However, the menu also offers a variety of “Platos,” one of them the Carne Asada.
My partner and I came to Sancho’s for dinner on a Monday night. The restaurant was quiet, with a few tables occupied with patrons. We did have to wait in line, however, due to a number of people placing orders to go. The kitchen was busy, quickly filling restaurant and pick-up orders, but the staff remained friendly and attentive.
While standing in line, we debated what to order. My partner said that a Mexican restaurant is best judged by how well it can prepare its Carne Asada. Having a budget of $25, we also ordered three tacos, chips and guacamole, and Agua de Melon, a refreshing, bright orange cantaloupe juice.
Sancho’s has a self-serve salsa bar, filled with five different types of salsa and fresh, sliced radishes. We grabbed a sample of each and went out to the patio, following one of the employees who was carrying out our chips and guacamole.
The chips were thick and crunchy made in house from corn tortillas. The guacamole was well balanced and clearly home-made, as chunks and strings of avocado stretched from the chips. The portion was small, but the chips and guac are actually a side rather than an appetizer. Who needed appetizers anyway when our abundance of food was promptly brought out and set before us?
For a price of $12.50, the Plato de Carne Asada came with rice, beans topped with cotija cheese, guacamole, lettuce and tomato, and a side of home-made corn tortillas. The beans were not lardy or salty, but fresh tasting, delivering the best bite when mixed with the rice and other accompaniments. My partner said it is important for the flavors to blend together. How well they blend determines the quality of the dish.
However, I was impressed by the main part of the dish-the steak. The meat was thinly sliced, lightly marinated, and well-cooked. It was not too chewy or over-done. To me, it didn’t have the unpleasant taste and texture I usually find in beef. In fact, after one bite, I wanted more, which was a surprise to both my partner and I.
The Carne Asada alone was a filling, satisfying meal, but we still had the tacos. Each taco is priced at only $1.75, or there is an option to get a taco plate: your choice of four for only $6.95.
I was excited for the pescado taco, which was marinated tilapia and sliced avocado topped with cilantro and onions, served with a wedge of lime. The fish was fresh, a little dry, but well-marinated. The dryness was off-set by the creaminess of the avocado and the juice from the lime.
We chose the Lengua taco (beef tongue) which I wanted to try since I have memories of eating beef tongue at my grandmother’s house, growing up in Russia. The meat was not marinated and the texture was dense and chewy. The taco would have been better had it stayed warm and was topped off by some salsa.
The third taco was the Barbacoa. I tried the meat for comparison of the two types of beef at the table. Turns out I only like steak! Shredded beef was not my choice of protein. However, my partner enjoyed the few bites of the taco, after which he said he was too full to finish what was left on the plates.
Overall, we were thoroughly impressed at how much food we had for the price we paid. In fact, it was hard to spend $25 on two people!
The Plato de Carne Asada is highly recommended, and the tacos are great for a quick lunch. There are several other menu items I would go back to try, such as the gorditas, ceviche and tamales. Sancho’s also offers weekend specials, including fajitas and different combination plates. If I ever have a day of craving beef, I know that I can rely on Sancho’s Carne Asada to fulfill my cravings and not drain my wallet.