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  • Writer's pictureKristen Rajsky

Culinary Cruising in the Southern Tier

Los Panchos, Authentic Mexican Cuisine

By Kristen Rajsky

“I’m bored.”


“There’s nothing to do in this area.”

Both of these comments are spoken far too frequently by people who live in the Southern Tier. What do I say to that, you ask? I say those people simply aren’t looking. In restaurants alone, there are an endless number of choices that one could check out in the region. So I set out on an expedition to shed light on some of these options. This month, I decided on an oldie but a goodie – Los Panchos, located on West Water Street in Elmira. 

Located on the corner of College Avenue and West Water Street in Elmira, N.Y., Los Panchos’ colorful facade greets customers, warmly welcoming them to experience delicious and authentic Mexican cuisine. (Photo courtesy of Kristen, Rajsky)

This unassuming Mexican restaurant is plunked on the corner of West Water Street and College Avenue, and offers a quick culinary trip to the land of enchiladas and empanadas. I grew up in Elmira, and Los Panchos, although in an alternate location on Main Street, was always a family favorite. Having spent almost a decade living in Texas though, I was a bit skeptical of how this upstate New York Mexican restaurant would stack up, but I forged forward with hope in my heart (and stomach). 

With the mariachi music dancing through the dining area, and the cultural decor sprawling out over the colorful walls, Los Panchos feels as authentic as it can while residing in a small northeast American city. After a greeting and exchange of pleasantries, our waitress delivered the very important first step to any Mexican dining experience – The Margarita. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint! With the perfect balance of booze and sweetness, my edible journey was off to an impeccable start. 

The Mexican tradition can be felt and seen throughout Los Panchos. The house margarita, watermelon margarita, and complimentary chips and salsa kickstarted Kristen’s culinary cruise. (Photos courtesy of Kristen Rajsky)

The next leg of this culinary adventure was the main course. My taste buds had been deprived of enchiladas for far too long, so I decided to give them some of what they had been craving since my departure from Texas. I went with two enchiladas and sides of both beans and rice, but the standout winner – by far – was still that stellar margarita. This beverage alone will draw me back – probably within the next week or so. It was that good! 

I appreciate that they have the majority of traditional dishes – tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, etc., but also like that they have options for children, vegetarians, and those whose palate is not in favor of the typical spice that Mexican cuisine delivers. Los Panchos has a vast array of options that would cover even the pickiest of eaters, so no one should be crossing it off their list of places to eat – even if Mexican cuisine is not your typical go-to. 

Don’t make any more excuses! There are things to do, places to eat, and adventures to be had right here in the Southern Tier. Until the next culinary voyage – may your taste buds stay happy and adventurous.

About the author

Kristen Rajsky is an Elmira, N.Y. native who recently returned to the area after a decade of living in Austin, Texas and finding the best food the city had to offer. She now resides in Corning, N.Y. and is passionate about family, food, and her fur babies.


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