Pambazo: Where to get the Mexican Street Food Staple Here in O.C.

El Mercado Modern’s deconstructed pambazo. Photograph by Priscilla Iezzi.

Good pambazo is often an inelegant affair: a sturdy roll split in two, stuffed with crumbled chorizo and nubs of potato, dunked into smoky guajillo chile sauce, and finally crisped on the griddle. The sandwich is a staple of Mexico City’s legendary street food culture, a messy but deliriously satisfying dish that can just as easily serve as a worker’s hearty lunch as it can an after-party snack.

Chef Danny Godinez’s El Mercado Modern (left) deconstructs the pambazo. The brunch-only sandwich is served open face: a raft of griddled, chile-soaked bread smeared with beans, draped with sheets of roasted pork, lettuce leaves, and huge crumbles of cheese. This pambazo is a beauty—a reinvention that still has that same hearty, satisfying soul.

Anaheim’s El Camino Real Market has long been one of the best choices for all manner of Mexican sandwiches. So it’s no surprise the market-meets-restaurant makes an excellent (and classic) pambazo. The roll here is essential, stained a vivid crimson from the guajillo chile sauce and mottled with char from the griddle. Atop the scoops of potato and chorizo are crisp shredded lettuce, crumbled cheese, and a cooling drizzle of crema.

El Chilango Villa’s pambazo is huge, an oblong mass nearly the size of a party sub. The Mexico City-style restaurant keeps it classic with a perfect melding of warm bread and that still-steaming chorizo and potato mixture. Only the biggest appetites will be able to tackle it solo, so be sure to bring a friend or two.


BONUS: El Mercado Modern is on the leading edge of the county’s craft cocktail scene, so supplement that pambazo with a drink. The Italian Wolf is as dramatic (and smooth) as they come, a blend of mescal, Galliano, marsala, citrus, and almond that arrives at the table under a cloche swirling with woodsy licorice smoke.

El Mercado Modern
301 N. Spurgeon St. Santa Ana

El Camino Real Market
855 S. State College Blvd., Anaheim

El Chilango Villa
9828 Katella Ave.

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