Pinche Gringo: So far from God, so close to the United States
By Ulysses de la Torre
American barbecue is one of those cuisines that demands a full declaration of street credentials before writing about it, so let’s do that first: my father’s family is from Texas and over the years I’ve managed to eat my way through the major gastrohubs of that state with the high point being the Wednesday night $1.95 beef rib special at the Rib Hut in El Paso. I have never set foot in St. Louis, Memphis or Kansas City, and the last time I was anywhere in the Carolinas was about 20 years ago as a college student.
With that said, Pinche Gringo is only worth it if you arrive early enough to beat the queue, which means before 1:30. If you expect to find yourself in Texas, the Carolinas or anywhere that isn’t Mexico City, you will be underwhelmed. But then who else in Mexico City offers what Pinche Gringo has? The answer is nobody. So if you can’t wait for your next trip north to get a barbecue fix, then Pinche Gringo should hold you. I’ve been twice now and tried all the mains and sides, so this is as comprehensive a review as it gets.
The best tasting meat is the brisket, and I say that as a rib man. In a phrase, the brisket makes me feel sorry for vegetarians and realize that asceticism was not meant for this lifetime.
This is not to say that the ribs, sausage or pulled pork are subpar; just that each of those left my palette wanting in a way the brisket did not.
The best tasting side dish is the cole slaw, owing to an extra zing somehow lacking in the other sides. Again, nothing wrong with the potato salad, beans or mac and cheese – they’re all functional, but I cast my lot with the slaw.
The best value for money is either the ‘Pareja’ Plato 2 carnes/2 guarniciones combo for 150 pesos or the sandwich for 85 pesos. The brisket sandwich yields a coconut-sized portion of meat on a hamburger bun.
The worst value for money is the ‘Paquete Familiar’ for 999 pesos, which includes one pound each of ribs, brisket, pulled pork and sausage, and a ‘family portion’ of each side dish. To put this into context, consider that 240 pesos buys a one-pound rack of ribs, a side of slaw and a fountain soda:
In other words, one-fourth the portion of the family package costs one-fourth the price.
The only benefit of the family portion is larger side dish helpings in one-liter containers. So if you want more beans, then by all means order the family package. Otherwise, there’s no added value there without Pinche Gringo first knocking 150 pesos off the price.
The Verdict: On a 1-10 scale, the lack of competition probably inflates Pinche Gringo to a 7, and I wouldn’t hesitate to downgrade that the moment any viable alternative shows up on the scene. Until then, yes, I’ll go back, the next time I can get there by 1:30, have a jones for barbecue and have no immediate plans to be north of the border—circumstances which will probably happen sooner rather than later.
Pinche Gringo BBQ
Cumbres de Maltrata 360
Open Wednesday to Sunday 1-7 p.m.
Ulysses de la Torre previously guestwrote “10 Dias, 9 Parrillas”, a three-part series reviewing Argentine steakhouses in Mexico City here: http://www.goodfoodmexicocity.com/carnivorous-cravings-to-the-bloody-last-drop---part-
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