Sancho’s Cantina & Cocina Is Well-Kept Secret – For Now 

click to enlarge Take your paramour to Sancho’s Cantina & Cocina before word spreads and the place gets too packed on a regular basis. - JAIME MONZON
  • Jaime Monzon
  • Take your paramour to Sancho’s Cantina & Cocina before word spreads and the place gets too packed on a regular basis.
click to enlarge JAIME MONZON
  • Jaime Monzon

Good things come to those who wait and hang out while drinking a margarita. That’s the general vibe two weeks in at Sancho’s Cantina & Cocina, which is slowly rolling out its services, and that’s totally fine by me. Opened by Sam and Lisa Asvestas, the same entrepreneurial folks who brought us fish tacos, lamb burgers and a giant kiddie playground at The Cove, Sancho’s looks to become your new favorite bar.

And you don’t have to keep it a secret. It’s as if the pair was blessed with some innate knowledge of what the consumer wants. Even though they already provide plenty of cool brews at The Cove’s Texas Bar, the couple has added another crushed gravel-lined escape for those post-work blues.

With Sancho’s, though, the offerings are streamlined and TBD — for now. I stopped by last week, on a rare day when the temps didn’t dip into the 30s or was ruined by high winds or worse — rain. Located at the corner of Jackson and Poplar, Sancho’s is another push to take back the Five Points area from the stronghold of fast food chains that neighbor it, but the bar definitely took its sweet time getting there. Once the weather stops flip-flopping, Sancho’s should hopefully have a hold on what it aims to offer.

The space, much like The Cove, is utilitarian while remaining inviting – though not as kid-friendly, since it lacks the badass playground. Aluminum patio chairs and tables and a single hammock (how else do you drive home the point of chill) smartly fill the raised lawn, as giant metal planters line the perimeter. Sancho’s is barebones chic all the way to the back patio, made from a 100-year-old tree formerly on The Cove’s parking lot. Oh, and at least for the time being, the restrooms are impeccable.

Music came by way of low speakers and, on my visit, a trio called the “The Sancheros,” who warmed up inside as I wrapped up my evening. It’s worth noting that this venue is 90 percent outdoors. The (maybe) 300 square feet of indoor space is made up of one row of booths and chairs along the bar, which is stacked with a solid liquor selection.

Patrons will find a nice batch of Scotches, along with some Texas spirits (Deep Eddy and Tito’s are present). Bartender Alex Davis is keeping things simple for now, and wells start at $4, but she’s already crafting some ideas for specialty drinks. Her first, a Spicy Sancho, uses tequila, orange juice, lime and a hint of housemade hot sauce as an added smoky kick.

Unlike its sister location, only Mexican imports are available on draft at Sancho’s — Dos Equis, Negra Modelo, Tecate Light and Victoria — all starting at $4. Bottled cervezas, starting at $3.25, include Corona, Pacifico, Indio, Bohemia, Sol, Carta Blanca, Dos Equis Amber and a quart-size Corona Caguama.

But while the name might suggest it is safe to bring your sancho or sancha to enjoy a frozen margarita ($3.50), I’d advise against any illicit activity as this bar will likely turn into a hot spot come spring. That’s already the case to some extent, since Sancho’s is becoming a draw for local food and music industry members. The bar menu was still in the works when I stopped by. I’ll trust the chef, Sam Villarreal, who has spent years inside The Cove kitchen, to not mishandle a street taco. The crowd thinned as the night turned progressively chilly, and much like Friendly Spot, Sancho’s will cater to the irregular Texas weather, but I’m eager to add this to my list of go-to near-downtown bars as soon as the street tacos are rolled out.

Sancho’s Cantina & Cocina 628 Jackson St. 320-1840 4pm-2am daily

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