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  • Taco takeover: Pancho Villa is Berlin’s favourite new Mexican spot


Taco takeover: Pancho Villa is Berlin’s favourite new Mexican spot

A worthy new addition to the Berlin Mexican food scene has opened up in Kreuzberg.

Photo: @pancho.villa.berlin

Serious question: do Berliners make better tacos without access to natural light? Since 2021, the standard-bearer for Mexican food in this city has been Taqueria El Oso, the Prenzlauer Berg market stall known for its giant rotating trompo and cavern-like location. Now there’s Pancho Villa, a subterranean space in Kreuzberg that serves shredded pork without a shred of hype.

Besides the lack of windows and unlimited salsa, the two eateries don’t actually have much in common. While El Oso’s counter serves up superb tacos and little else, Pancho Villa’s owners aim to recreate the full cantina experience. That means Corona beer by the bucketful, icy margaritas and a €12 Franken-drink called a ‘margacheve’ that impressively combines the two. It means giant flatscreens that show fun facts about the restaurant’s namesake, the controversial outlaw and folk hero Francisco “Pancho” Villa. And it means the kind of food is tailor-made to soak up booze, including the most satisfyingly sloppy carnitas in town.

Juicy, slow-cooked pulled pork, a sturdy corn tortilla from a Czech supplier, a splash of salsa from one of three plastic bottles on your table, a squeeze of lime… what more could you need? Chicharrones, that’s what. The crispy, deep-fried pork rinds are ubiquitous at Mexico City taquerias, as are cueritos, bits of that same pig skin confited ‘till they’re soft and unctuous. Order the ‘Especial’ and you’ll get all three cuts in a demure-looking bite that packs a decadently porky punch.

Photo: Jane Silver

Vegan options, the weak spot of many a Berlin taqueria, shine here thanks to an ingenious ‘chorizo’ recipe that Jazmin discovered on the internet. Skip the more pedestrian nopales (cactus strips) and double down on the mix of rice, seeds and guajillo, whether in a tortilla or with a schmear of very decent guacamole on a Schrippe-like torta bun.

You’ll have to order three or more things to get full, and at €2.75 (for a plain carnitas taco) to €4.50 (for a torta or a tostada, available on Thursdays only), it adds up. Well worth it if you ask us, but you can soften the blow by convincing a dozen carnivorous friends to split the ‘Paquete Amigos’: two kilos of carnitas and 24 beers for an even €200.

Or come in on Taco Tuesday, where most items are at least 25 cents off. Personally, we’ll head back on a Sunday for sauce-smothered specials like chilaquiles or chicharrones with salsa verde and black beans. If the darkened surroundings don’t soothe our hangover, the michelada – made with on-tap Corona and a healthy shot of Clamato – definitely will.

  • Pancho-Villa Cantina, Reichenberger Str. 120, Kreuzberg, details.