Pampano was a go-to “special occasion” restaurant for the Hoppers a few years back – great upscale Mexican cuisine that blew us away the first time we went there. However, it’s a little overpriced. Although I would have dreams about their tuna, I just couldn’t justify the $31 price tag. Plus, it’s not in an area that we frequent all that often – 49th between 2nd & 3rd. It wasn’t until we saw a Blackboard Eats (http://www.blackboardeats.com/) deal for 30% off dinner at Pampano that the memories came flooding back and we decided to go for it.
The décor in Pampano makes it feel like you’re in a Latin dream – white swirly ceilings with fans giving off a cool breeze. They have a great outdoor patio upstairs that’s open for dining when it’s nice out. Unfortunately, the deal we had only permitted us to eat in the dining room.
We started out with sangria and a margarita to kick things off appropriately on this lovely Saturday night. For an appetizer, we shared the Tacos de Filete – Filet Mignon, soft corn tortilla, cilantro, onion and tomatillo salsa.
It was nice and flavorful but I don’t know if I would get this dish again. The tacos were mini and could be consumed in one bite if you have a big mouth…and the dish only came with three. Not a good bang for your buck at $14. You might be better served getting the guac & chips for the table at the same price.
For the main course, there was no question about it – we were both getting the Atún – pistachio-chile ancho crusted tuna, sweet potato, green apple salad, mole verde.
This dish is the reason we used to come here – its savor-every-bite good. The tuna is just slightly seared, cut up into big pieces and spread out over their delicious mole sauce. It goes too quickly but is absolutely delicious.
Our beef with this place: main dishes don’t come with side dishes, they come with garnishes, leaving you not as full as you’d like to be. And at $31, they should at least throw you some rice & beans.
Pampano would be a great place for someone with an expense account. The food is definitely high quality, but it’s not inventive enough to be that expensive. We’ll be back here, but on someone else’s dime for sure.
Epilogue: Pampano led us to another one of our favorite upscale Mexican places – Maya. They’re both owned by the same group and they both have amazing tuna dishes! Check out Maya on the Upper East Side – it’s more moderately-priced.