PonchoNo8 have constantly been filling my inbox with their deals (which are indeed welcome) but the location is just far enough from work I'm unable to go their for lunch. Crossing the bridge one evening, I decided to stop by the Steward street branch and expected an experience close to their extremely personable email marketing teams spiel.
The shop is extremely well decorated. Modern, like a candy shop selling burritos. There was nobody at the front, a an "ahem" did the trick. I asked for the low carb box which I'd received a QR code voucher for. Something I noted was that the staff are perfectly pleasant, but don't really chat to you much. I was pretty much expecting somebody really chatty taking my order which the emails sort of indicate with their tone. The most I was asked were the ingredients I'd like and my phone to scan the code. No pleasantries or small talk. That said, the guy creating my box was generous with the portions of everything, so fair play.
The food itself. WOW. I've never had a naked burrito before, but wow. You don't miss the empty carbs from the flour tortilla and you don't miss the rice that feels like a brick in your stomach afterward. If anything you get more beans and chicken as a result (more protein \o/) The salsa, salad and other toppings are quite standard, The chicken however, is by far the highlight of the meal. It's cut into big chunks. No small crumbled pieces of dried out frazzled chicken here. The grilled chicken is chunky, just charred to give it that bbq taste and moist real pieces of part breast, part thigh.
So the shop is nice, well designed and clean. The food even better. I just wish there was one south of the river in Bankside Southwark so I could head here for my Low Carb Box after hitting the gym :D
Never before have I met a burrito that I can completely eat, that was until I met Poncho no8. It's a little bit cute, a little bit hidden from the tourists but unfortunately, it's also a little bit generic.
A bit weird that they put white Basmati rice in it but who am I to judge, it tasted good. As I mentioned, I actually managed to eat the whole thing, it's a little smaller than your average burrito, or maybe it was be just being really hungry. Still £5 seemed steep for what it was. It fills a whole and I'd go back, it just didn't knock me out with awesomeness like I wanted it to.
I really am awful when left to my own devices. Cook for one, hah, never!
So tonight I jumped on the Shoreditch express aka the London Overground for a 6 minute flight to Poncho No 8 (OK so the walk at the other end was an extra 6 minutes but these minor details sometimes allude me).
My burrito was good, not amazing, but good. It was decent size and reasonably priced. Unlike other places, that I frequently mention in my reviews, the menu here was a bit different (not radically so, a burrito is a burrito after all) but some challenging filling options confronted me: Tomato or coriander rice; Medium or Spicy beans; Medium or Hot salsa.
I enjoyed my burrito, it was tasty and filling and different enough from those that have come before to feel like I was eating something new. Unlike Lizzie's experience, I thought mine was a decent size.
There is hardly any seating here though, they don't serve beers (which was disappointing as I had visions of me getting mildly intoxicated alone in a burrito bar) and they don't open at weekends despite the crowds that come to the market on Sundays - definitely a missed opportunity.
If I'm in the area and looking for something filling and quick I'll probably come back, but this is no place to meet friends and have a chat whilst stuffing a big fat object into your mouth.
The best burritos I have had were in small Mexican restaurants in the Bay Area. Poncho No.8 does an okay imitation of those, but isn't nearly as satisfying either in taste or size.
They basically do burritos, tacos, or salads (the insides of a burrito sans wrap) all with a choice of steak, pork, or beef plus rice and beans and sauce. You can customize what you get as you order, although the downside of this if you go at lunch when it is busy is you get moved along a production line and bombarded with questions.
I went for a burrito with baracoa. I hadn't really heard of this meat before, but a search online suggest it is meat slow-cooked over an open flame then torn into strips. Poncho's menu described it as beef cooked overnight then shredded when soft. It was nice and tender and slightly watery here, reminding me of carne mechada in cheap places in Venezuela, but the 'slow cooking' hadn't added any depth to the flavour which was slightly bland.
The other ingredients weren't that high quality either. Diced tomato could have been chopped a big smaller as the big cold chunks stood out, while like others who have written about Poncho here I wasn't quite sure about the type of rice chosen.
It doesn't really matter much, though, once all of these ingredients are mixed together inside the wrap. The finished burrito was fairly good. Some I've had bulk themselves out with too much rice, but this was nicely balanced - the fresh crispness of the lettuce and tomato standing up alongside the rice and beans. It wasn't quite the mega-heavy feast that American burritos are though, perhaps needing more cream and cream and cheese and earthier meat.
Poncho No.8 makes quite a big thing of its fuego hot sauce and this was good, adding a potent, if slightly overwhelming kick to the Burrito.
A few people on here have commented about the small size of the Burritos at Poncho No.8 and its true that while as wide, they're definitely not as big as some of the huge, stuffed wraps that you get in the USA for less money. For me, a lot of Mexican food's appeal lies in quantity rather than quality, so it would have been n ice to get a bit more.
But at the same time I'd rather they stayed small than just padded it out with more rice or salad that upset the taste. And the burritos here are still better value than the wraps sold in some of the chain restaurants around, although charging an extra 70p for guacamole is kind of frustrating.
Poncho No 8 is the sort of eatery that I call a Chipotle-alike. Chipotle is a wildly successful and oft-imitated chain of fast food burrito joints in the US with a distinctive setup. You queue for your burrito across the counter from a parallel queue of employees who will make your burrito in an automobile factory-esque line. One guy puts chicken on the tortilla, who hands it to the rice applicator, who passes it to the salsa dispensation engineer and so on.
If you're not a people person or if you're worried that your shirt clashes with your tie today then restaurants like this will drive you mad - there are half a dozen social interactions that you must brave before the last person on the assembly line hands you a burrito. I happen to like this setup, but I'm a chatty American so your mileage may vary.
It's hard to judge Poncho No 8 on its own merits and without comparing it to other Chipotle-alikes. Chilango here in London is similar, and if the signs on Charing Cross Road are to be believed then Chipotle's arrival on these shores is imminent. Poncho falls a little short in this company. The rice tends to be just a tad under-cooked. The cheese has a slightly odd sweetness to it. The salsa at the extreme end of Poncho's heat spectrum will produce a scalp sweat or two but it isn't meet-your-spirit-animal-and-ancestors hot. (The sign in the restaurant that favourably compares their hot salsa to riot control gas had raised my hopes.) It's not the best burrito you can get.
It is, however, the best burrito you can get in East London, so far as I am aware. It's also the only Mexican place in lunch hour reach of Spitalfields, the Land of 1000 Lunch Places (Boho Mexica nearby is outstanding but it's not really a take-away sort of spot). The chicken and beef are uniformly delicious. There is value for money here, too: £4-6 spent at Poncho No 8 nets you a burrito that approaches the size and shape of a rugby ball.
Three stars seems unfair for a place that I've been to a few times and am likely to visit again, but the memory of and future hope for finer burritos keeps me away from granting four. Poncho No 8 is pretty damn good, though, and for the moment it's the only game in this part of town. Burrito lovers and queue fetishists should give it a try.
Good, solid burrito place (for London).
It's gotten massively popular now so expect to wait in a 10-15 minute queue almost any time you go, especially around lunchtime.
I usually have them put in more beans and a bit less meat so that it's more like the burritos I'd get in California. The salsas are pretty good, especially the hot one.
A bit overpriced for a burrito if you ask me, but I'm so thrilled to have a decently good burrito close to work I'm willing to pay it.
The queue for this place at lunch time is enormous, so you are better off waiting until around 2pm. The beef barbacoa burrito is very pleasant at at around £5.50 with an extra 70p for guacamole. They also sell a rather violent Poncho No.8 chile sauce which should be treated with caution and respect.
Unfortunately this breaks the City lunch time take-away for a fiver rule, so it won't be a run-away winner on my weekday circuit, but it will definitely get a visit now and then.
Ok starting to think my first visit was a fluke. The subsequent trips have not been as tasty. The food hasn't been as hot and the tortilla is just not soft anymore. I don't know why :(
Also the tofu tastes delicious to me, but I'm also no vegetarian. The vegetarians I do venture here with do not like it. I do, but opt out for the steak almost always.
The wraps here are phenomenal! My favourite has to be the Fajita Burrito with Babaoca which is so tasty and succulent, and when covered in their hot sauce, is enough to make your eyes water as well as your mouth!
I have to admit, I fell out with this place about a month back after a sub-par Burrito but as a result of passing on my feedback, they have clearly taken my points on board and are now back up there as my number one lunch spot!
The queues are big if you hit it at 1 o'clock but, it moves quickly and is worth the wait. Staff are happy to customise your wrap if you're like me and don't want it filled with extra carbs, the only downfall is that it is quite pricey once you add the yummy guacamole extra. But the meal keeps you filled up all afternoon so justification complete!
As long as you avoid this place between 12 and 2 p.m. you're alright. Just outside the side doors of Spitalfields Market, it's in prime territory for those venturing across Bishopsgate from the City, or from the huge law firm across the street.
I like it. First thing to say is compliments on the guacamole - very tasty. Also, the staff are friendly and accomodating. The place is squeeky clean, and is extremely well lit, almost too bright.
I've come back a few times, and I'm working my way through the ingredients, I think the chicken is best so far. I had the vegetarian option, and it didn't really work for me, especially with the red onions.
Basmati rice, though?? Seriously?. Quick lesson: basmati rice is great for Indian food, not so good for Mexican food. Long grain baby! Basmati is like a fat, creamy rugby ball, whereas the ridges in long grain rice hold the sauce, and it tastes better in that context.
Poncho, you need to get you some long-grain, then you'll get another star.
Solid, but not amazing, burrito served up in a overly clean, overly lit white room by foreign robots wearing the same immaculate t-shirt and perma-smiles. Authentic Mexican this is not.
I'm a bit baffled by the rice they use... but that doesn't detract too much from what are otherwise very decent fillings and tasty guacemole. I enjoyed my lunch from here (thankfully I took it elsewhere, for fear of being blinded) and the long queues over the lunch hours do tend to move quickly (see reference to robots, above).
I have tried burritos at both branches of Poncho, and have to say I found them underwhelming. Whilst nicely packed, the chicken lacked flavour and was dry on both occasions.
I also had a coffee at the St Pauls branch because I thought it was really neat that they had decent coffee as well, unfortunately it wasn't prepared very well and tasted off.
It's a shame because I was expecting more from these guys!
I love burritos beyond measure. Having been spoiled for life after two trips to San Francisco I find myself constantly hunting for what feels like a burrito that can match up to the ones I like over there.
Please note that the best burrito is found in the Mission District of San Fran. But now dear old London is starting to catch onto what the burrito thing is all about and it's a case of about time too!
The things that mean a London burrito will ever be a San Fran one is down to something geographically out of our control. We don't get avocados and produce like they get in California. I love Californian avocado. It has a particular buttery and flavorsome quality that you just don't quite get over here. Same applies to the tomatoes too and other key components of Burritos.
That aside we are learning how to make good mexican food at long last! The quality of ingredients at Poncho are excellent as is the choice of chilli and freshness of the salsa. I also like the loyalty card scheme. It is also worth queuing for as you won't be disappointed. Although I tend to go in the middle of the afternoon, just after the lunchtime rush as it means I can sit down and have a near religious experience with enjoying my sacred burrito and teleporting myself back to the memories of California I fondly have with each bite.
Judging by the queue from the door and the sightings of green bags from office workers around Spitalfields, Poncho No 8 is certainly popular. Don't let the queue put you off, the staff are very fast and you'll be rewarded with a very filling and tasty burrito.
Burritos aren't my natural food of choice, but the salsa in this was very refreshing & herby. The spicy black beans not overly 'spicy' but added a good texture to the burrito.
Interesting branding, decor and loyalty card scheme too, so I'm sure I'll be back.
First, my Mexican food credentials: I'm originally from Phoenix, Arizona (where there is unbelievable Mexican food all over the place), and I've been to Mexico many, many times. Mexican food is what I grew up on. That stuff is life-blood for me.
But those of you in the know realize that places like Poncho No 8 aren't really trying to recreate authentic Mexican food -- this is a San Francisco-style (specifically, Mission-style) burrito place. And guess what? I lived in the Bay Area for a bit more than five years. So I feel qualified to be snobby and judgmental about that kind of Mexican food too ;-)
To my surprise (and delight) Poncho No 8 absolutely hit the spot!
You do have to take a bit of directorial control over your burrito -- i.e., "no salad," and "after you wrap it, please grill it for a minute" -- but after those bits of editing I ended up with a lovely chicken burrito with pinto beans, three kinds of salsa, orange rice (yes, really!), and a nicely grilled tortilla.
Look, will London (or New York, for that matter) ever have a taqueria that is every bit as good as the ones in San Francisco? Probably not. But Poncho No 8 gave me a very yummy burrito that absolutely satisfied my craving. I'll be back for sure.
Another new gem at Spitalfields :)
I heard of this new mexican place about a month back, and i have been a regular since then. The burritos are good ... at least the meaty ones (i have tried the chicken, steak and also the pork). Priced at between £5 - £6, i think it compares reasonably well with the other lunch alternatives we have around. Unlike some of the other reviewers, i feel that the wraps are big enough ... or maybe my appetite has gone down recently :(
Its usually a long wait to get food from Poncho ... but they try to make the wait a pleasant one. I once saw them offering nachos to the people waiting. On another occasion they offered umbrellas to the waiting customers as it had started to drizzle. But don't forget to return an umbrella that you take ... you wouldn't want to steal a bright lemon yellow umbrella with the words "Nicked from Poncho" written on them, would you ? :)
The primary reason why i am docking a star is their operational inefficiency. Poncho is good ... but not good enough for a 20 minute wait. The service is slow. I am not sure what their constraints are, but they should look at ways of serving their clientèle quickly ... i will be back more often when they do :)
One of the better burrito places in London I would rate it considerably better than Chipotle further west, although the model is more-or-less the same ( burrito, taco, or salad with chicken, steak, pork, or barbacoa). The other bits , as in rice, beans, etc. I would say are definitely of better quality. The two sorts of quesadilla on offer ( chorizo and mushroom) are both however rather disappointingly greasy and insubstantial.
The price point is a touch lower than Chipotle's, too, although it depends what you choose. For example, a pork burrito is 6.30 compared to the standard 6.85. I would however contend that it's a bit cheeky to charge extra for guacamole, which I always think of as integral to a decent burrito. The brownies are superb, if you need something sweet, and they deliver too ( for free, within the area easily accessed by bike).
Perhaps because of the encroachment of competition ( Chilango just opened round the corner), Poncho 8 is offering 10% off food in January)
Passed this place many times and often noticed long queues around lunch time so thought I'd give it a try. I was very disappointed. Wrap was rather cold and not at all filling and there was very little chicken in it. The staff were very pleasant though. Over-priced and probably the worst Mexican food I've had in London. I won't be going there again in the near future.. Example of their prices - they sell 'Bounce protein balls' for £1.90 and a one minute walk away, on Commercial Street, you can get the same for £1.49.
Try Pilpel's around the corner on Brushfield Street - not Mexican but very filling and better tasting and much better value.
This wasn't the best burrito I've had, by a long way. Lacking in flavor, steak was chewy, and staff (all seven of them) were definitely concerned about speed over quality. I'll be heading around the corner to Flying Burrito in future. It's cheaper and tastes much nicer.
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