Fancy a bit of Mexican? There’s some upscale options available, but in Aundh, is a new QSR that will help you enjoy the flavours of Mexico without burning a hole in your pocket. Read on as the Foodwalla presents his first review for The Punekar.
‘Picante’ is the Spanish word for spicy. Deriving its name from this, Picantos is the latest Mexican QSR (quick service restaurant) to have set up in Pune. True Mexican flavours are really tantalizing and mouthwatering; and although the levels of heat are very in line with the Indian palate, all similarity between Indian and Mexican food ends there.
Located in Aundh near Parihar Chowk, which housed the Casa Lolo earlier, Picantos in a well-designed, comfortable place. Although they have a good frontage and signage, it is hidden by trees and is not very easy to locate. Once you do find it, though, it’s welcoming! As soon as you enter, you feel happy thanks to its well-lit and minimalistic design. First timers will be startled by the loud ‘Ola’ from the owners who generally [wo]man the counters themselves and roll the burritos as well. They make it a point to speak to as many guests as possible and extend the warmth that the place is all about.
The place is basically a quick service restaurant so you have to order, personalize your selection with sauces if you like, pick up and eat! I won’t be wrong if I say that it’s a good take on the infamous Chipotle back home. And you are offered personalization to some extent as well. The menu is short and sweet and in the tradition of a QSR, is behind the serving counter. Salads, Quesadillas, Chips, Burritos, Tacos, Bowls, Desserts, Beverages and Meal combos are the offerings with well-balanced options for vegetarians too.
El primer plato… Chicken Quesadillas and Chips with 3 dips. Well grilled, crisp on the outside and a gooey cheesy filling inside. The flavours and bite were well-rounded and just right. Personally, I feel that some traditional Mexican notes could still be added. Certain herbs could give more support to the cheese song. Also, the filling portion or quantity should surely be increased and then the quesadilla will be the thing that would even make Suarez stop biting into other things! The chips served with this were really nice, and it took me a while to be convinced that they were made in house. But yes, they are.
The dips – Salsa, Guacamole and Sour Cream… The Salsa dip surely needs a shot of spice and some zing. The Guacamole is one of the best that I have eaten or for that matter even cooked! But I do believe that maintaining these levels of consistency will be very difficult because of the inconsistent supply and quality of ingredients in our city; especially avocado. I pray that Picantos always gets the same kind of avocados that they had procured that day! Sour Cream, again homemade and yeah, it’s good.
Next came the Big Burrito with BBQ Chicken Strips. I felt it was a riot of ingredients and confused my innocent palate! Rice, beans, chicken, veggies, salsa and sauces all rolled in soft flour tortilla. It is nice and loaded (filling), but the tortilla is very thin and halfway through, the entire thing plops out. At that point, the aluminum foil wrapping doesn’t help much and all you can do is look around if anybody is watching and quickly use your hand to place the spill over where it belongs; in your mouth! A thick tortilla will be very helpful and so would be the reduction of sauces to reduce the wetness. I found the fillings to be juicy and of watery consistency, which definitely adds to ‘plop’ value.
We also ordered the Spicy Chicken Bites Bowl and found the ingredients and flavour profile very similar to the Burrito. It obviously had the same set of ingredients and sauces too. Very filling and nice and I don’t mind the riot in a bowl! All this was washed down with Ginger Lemonade, which is actually the star! Nice amount of lime and ginger make it a very balanced beverage.
The meal ended with a Tres Leches Cake (three milk cake) and it didn’t really go down well with me. Even the levels of sweetness were low but that I think that’s a personal perspective. But since the recipe calls for condensed milk and heavy cream, I was expecting a diabetic’s nightmare but was disappointed. Maybe since they don’t make the dessert and it must have been around for some time, it was what it was.
Overall, a nice experience and not heavy on the wallet. Would love to see some more additions to the menu since it feels repetitive at present. Will keep going there for sure!
Bon Apetito and Nos Vemos!