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Friday, August 28, 2009

Panca (New York, NY)

92 7th Ave S
New York, NY 10184
(212) 488-3900

Panca is a great little neighborhood spot. I haven't yet eaten my way through more than 1/4 of the menu, but based on what I have had, the food is solid by any standard. For this price range, it is very good. As others have noted, ceviche is a strong point and comes in a plethora of interesting options. I haven't really loved preps with pulpo (octopus) because I find the octopus a little tough after being marinated in lime juice, but the white fish preparations are all fantastic. The fish is tender, the ceviche is balanced.

Beef heart anticuchos are also good, very tender, well marinated and well spiced.

Yuca fries are hard to dislike under any circumstance, but here, they are beautiful... worthy of choir music, really. They're not at all greasy, wonderfully crisp on the outside, nice and tender on the inside.

I have liked, but not swooned over my arroz con pollo. The arroz con pata is more complex as a dish and presents a nice mix of flavors. The aji de gallina is stick-to-your ribs, authentic and nicely garlicky.

The algarrobina cocktail is one of the few cocktails I know of that uses egg yolk rather than egg white. The result is a creamy concoction reminiscent of cold eggnog, but just barely sweet, with a hint of cinnamon. Panca makes a good one.

Others have mentioned having service issues. I have personally not encountered any, though I guess it's worth noting that the owner was there each of the four meals I've had there. Wait staff were extremely pleasant, food took a while to come, but we never had an unreasonably long wait, the owner (playing host) accommodated a few of our odd-numbered groups with grace.

Is it destination dining? Probably not unless you really have a hankering for Peruvian and don't want to leave Manhattan. But I'm happy to have this in my neighborhood. 

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