Downtown's El Chamizal Mexican restaurant (Fifth Street and Central) is now Paco's New Mexican restaurant. After taking over at the end of September, the Aviles family quickly painted over the El Chamizal logo and simply added "New" to the words below it. They later repainted the entire sign, but for most Downtown lunchers the temporary fix was good enough. (The Central Avenue corridor has been without a New Mexican restaurant for a while now, though many cafés serve New Mexican items on their menus.) Paco's is a family business, Marisol Aviles said last week. She and her siblings—sister Gabriela and brothers Martin and Paco—run the place together. They agreed to name the restaurant after Paco because he's the cook, and the one with 18 years of experience in the restaurant business, most recently at Garcias Kitchen, Marisol said. The Aviles Family have also drafted Mom, Dad and various nieces to help out, the guys in the kitchen and the ladies out front. The family grew up mostly in Mexico but most members have been in the States for years. Marisol said they decided to focus on New Mexican food because of its simplicity and Paco's experience with the food. Paco's serves breakfast all day, including pancakes and omelets alongside huevos and breakfast burritos. Speaking of breakfast burritos, the tortillas here are notably delicious. They're thick, fluffy and taste suspiciously homemade—because they are! Marisol informed me that they make all of the tortillas in-house as well as the dough for sopaipillas and Indian tacos. A few dishes on Paco's menu, the flan, sweet rice and salsa are made in the traditional Mexican fashion from family recipes. Paco's serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Thursday; and breakfast, lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday. Check it out when you're in the mood for a really nice tortilla.
Just down the street from Paco's, the patio at Ned's Downtown is deserted at lunch time. Two weeks ago the folks at Ned's decided not to continue serving lunch. I was standing behind one restaurateur, in line at Central Market, when another popped his head in to ask what the story was with Ned's—the tables they usually had set on the patio were still locked behind the gate. Closing for lunch was the response, and it seemed to be the consensus, among the folks in line that the restaurant scene Downtown will only change more when Flying Star Café opens at Eighth Street and Silver in December or January. Why is it so hard to serve lunch Downtown? Maybe I should be the one trying to answer that question. Watch this space. I may find the answer.