What once was 100% Mexicano is now Sancho’s Mexican serving authentic Mexican food, in a casual setting that’s welcoming, and affordable. I’ve always thought of it as Boulder’s best kept secret; it’s hard to find and not on the beaten path. What makes it even better, is that the food is just that kind of street-style Mexican you can’t find locally.
Opening In 2010 and the Evolution to Sancho’s:
Sancho’s Owner Shawn Camden, is also the co-founder of Intercambio Uniting Communities, a non-profit that creates a bridge of understanding and respect between immigrant and non-immigrant communities in Boulder. Through the organization, he met many Mexican and Latino immigrants in Boulder County, and they all shared a love for authentic Mexican food, which practically was non-existent in Boulder at the time. Camden’s mission was then and still is, to offer affordable, fresh, authentic, and friendly Mexican joint in Boulder. They opened in 2010.
After moving along as 100% Mexicano for four years, disaster hit on August 24th 2014. The Diagonal Plaza strip mall where they are located, had a sprinkler system fire line that burst which flooded the entire shopping center at 2850 Iris Avenue. Closed for months for repairs and rebuilding, they took advantage and decided to rebrand to Sancho’s and essentially start over.
Camden said every single recipe they used at 100% Mexicano, “was trashed and we redid every single recipe in order to improve the taste and freshness. Many ingredients came out of a can with 100% Mexicano, now everything, I mean everything, is made from scratch with fresh ingredients.”
They also added chorizo which they didn’t have before, and before they would buy their chicharron from a company, but now they make their own chicharron and Camden believes “it tastes 10 times better.” They’ve added many new menu items to round out their offering, but also kept tried and true dishes that locals loved including their robust made-from-scratch salsa bar.
Camden, alongside his chefs and staff believe wholeheartedly in their authenticity. Camden shares, “the only other thing more authentic than us is South of the border…we also have items on our menu that are virtually impossible to find in any Mexican restaurant in Colorado.” These include their gorditas (small cake made with masa and stuffed with cheese and meat), elote (Mexican-style corn on the cob), birria (a spicy stew), and la gringa (variety of tacos).
Their food cater toward the Mexican population from Zacatecas, Mexico as about 80% of Mexicans in Boulder are from this region. The gorditas and birria even specifically come from this area.
Drinks like horchata, and the fruit agua fresca drinks (I love the melon or pineapple) sit out front on the counter in glass vats.
The tacos are street-size, and properly priced at $1.75 a piece. I always cringe at $4-6 tacos, that are already small in nature. Sancho’s offers a variety like their al pastor, barbacoa, lengua, pollo and more.
One of their newer salsas from the salsa bar is their salsa cremosa, which is their most popular. It has a creamy light green color, made from olive oil, tomatillo, and jalapenos. They offer six salsas total that you can ladle onto your dish directly, or bring back to your table to sample them all with chips.
My personal favorite dish is off the Platos menu, which is their enchiladas de pollo. It comes with three chicken enchiladas (could just get cheese if you preferred), their incredible mole sauce, rice, beans, and sour cream.
Off the menu you could also order breakfast, they have a kids menu which caters to families, and you can get flan or churros for dessert.
When entering the small restaurant, next to the Boulder DMV in a hidden strip mall, you order from the cash register upfront, with menus up on the wall. You can peer into the open kitchen, and once you’ve ordered, your food will be brought to you. The space is small, and there’s an outdoor patio for warmer months, as well. What they may lack in the ambiance department, they make up for in their authentic food where I can’t find anywhere else in Boulder.
When I asked about the new name, Camden laughed and explained there’s a humorous reason for the name, which I was surprised to learn of its origin.
A “sancho” in Mexico, is not Sancho Panza from Don Quijote, it’s the “guy who cheats with your wife but nobody, especially you, knows about it.” They’re called Sancho’s because they are one of the most hidden restaurants in Boulder, and jokingly, it’s where the married woman can take her “sancho.” He urges it’s meant to be a joke and not taken seriously. When Mexicans hear the name they laugh, but when someone from the US hears it, he says they assume from Don Quijote.
Find them at 2850 Iris Avenue, Suite H (Diagonal Plaza at 28th and Iris) or at: sanchosmexican.com.
They’re open daily starting at 10 a.m. and open until 9 p.m. everyday except Sunday where they close at 6 p.m.