Panchita’s de Veracruz

Despite multiple tragedies, this Riverbend staple is still serving up Veracruz cuisine and looking forward to a new venture.

“Mexican food” is a term so broad as to be almost indecipherable. In addition to the Americanized versions of it, virtually every region of Mexico has its own style.

One example is the cuisine of the Mexican state of Veracruz, and in New Orleans, no one is more committed to presenting that tradition than Panchita’s de Veracruz, located at 1434 South Carrollton near the Riverbend area.

“All the food is authentic for Veracruz, Mexico, and from my pueblo,” restaurant owner Francis Delgado proclaimed proudly. “I learned to cook from my mother in Mexico, and all of the recipes we use are from my mother.”

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Sometimes referred to as criolla, the centerpiece of the Veracruz style is the poblano pepper.

“Molé poblano is typical for my region,” Delgado explained. “The poblano pepper is not spicy. Typically, we fry it first, then we baste it in batter and egg. Then we prepare it with whatever the customer would like. It can be filled with cheese, chicken or beef.”

The stuffed poblano is then baked and usually served with salad, beans and rice, along with tortillas, which Delgado emphasized are handmade on-site daily.

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Other typical dishes in the Veracruz tradition include enchiladas de mole, tamales, and a preparation of banana leaves with chicken.

From its beginning, Panchita’s has always been a family affair. Not only did the recipes come from her mother, her brother founded the restaurant 15 years ago. After immigrating to the United States and working as a housekeeper for many years, Delgado was able to quit that work to join her brother in the restaurant.

Then COVID arrived, and it was devastating. Not only was the restaurant forced to close, later in 2020, Delgado’s brother passed away. Despite the twin calamities, somehow Panchita’s survived, most of all by selling food to people in the neighborhood.

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When a third disaster hit, friends and neighbors stepped up again.

“The neighborhood helped me a lot after Hurricane Ida,” Delgado recalled. “Despite some damage, we stayed open. They helped us, and we helped the neighborhood by being open.”

Still, it was a stressful time for Delgado, whose family tragedy also meant she now had to run the entire Panchita’s operation.

“The biggest challenge for me has been taking over the business side of the restaurant,” she said. “I knew the kitchen, the recipes, the supplies. I didn’t know how to work with the bankers, with the government.”

Fortunately, several longtime members of the restaurant staff had the relevant expertise and helped her learn the ropes.

Delgado said things have now settled into a much better rhythm. The eight-person crew keeps the authentic food coming out, and Delgado is waiting on final city permits to launch a new food truck. Branded with the Panchita’s name and look, it will both add revenue and help advertise the restaurant.

Asked where the food truck could be found, Delgado laughed and said, “Anybody anywhere
that calls and wants [it], that’s where it will be.”

Panchita’s de Veracruz

1434 South Carrollton // New Orleans
504-281-4127 //

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