By Julianne Boisvert
Fresh food, intimate ambience and attentive service can be difficult to come by in a desert college town, but Pasco Kitchen & Lounge delivers just that.
Located on University Blvd., it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a menu stocked with classic favorites garnished with locally produced meats and produce.
Even the appetizers are loaded with diverse assemblages of ingredients. Priced at $9 “Jorge’s Famous Shrimp Ceviche” is any seafood lover’s dream come true and performs as the ultimate introduction to a spicy meal – if that’s what you’re in the mood for. Tender, sweet shrimp marinated in zesty lemon with fresh cilantro, avocado, lime, and tomato in a nearly criminal jalapeno tomato sangrita, with tostadas on the side and spicy mayo for dipping come together in a dish worth a standing ovation.
Also on the dinner menu is the Chef Scavo Steak & Sonoran Salad for $22. Consistent with Pasco’s reputation for serving free range meat, the ranchero steak is noted as “responsibly sourced” and is supposed to be cooked to requested specifications, although mine was a little over-done. The spicy/tangy combination of the serrano/citrus dressing drizzled on the salad nicely complimented the array of fresh vegetables.
The restaurant has a full bar and offers unique gin, vodka, tequila, rum and whiskey cocktails. If you’re tempted by tequila, “Father Kino” ($8) is a must-try. Tequila, freshly muddled cucumber and cilantro, freshly squeezed lime, and jalapeno-spiced agave nectar come together in a dimensional blast of flavor that is intense and an absolute guilty pleasure I want to indulge in over and over again. Make sure to ask for a fully salted chili-tamarind rim.
It’s a relatively small restaurant, and the atmosphere at Pasco is kept low key and personable servers speak in soft tones as to not disturb conversations at nearby tables. There is an outside patio with tables, although it faces the busy street and bustling passerby may disrupt your date night or distract from happy hour.
Speaking of happy hour, it occurs daily at Pasco from 3 – 6 pm and offers economically advantageous specials including $5 entrees, $5 glasses of house wine, $3.50 draft beers, and $4-$5 cocktails.