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BEST LOCAL EATERY WE WISH WERE A CHAIN Phoenix 2005 - Chino Bandido Takee-Outee

Chino Bandido Takee-Outee

Chino Bandido Takee-Outee

15414 N. 19th Ave.

Phoenix, AZ 85023

602-375-3639

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Everyone loves pandas. And a panda dressed up like Pancho Villa -- with a big mustache, a sombrero, a pistol on his hip, and a bullet belt strung across his chest? Now that's a winner, and one that can turn Panda Express' wimpy, two-tone bear into beef with broccoli any day of the week. "Pancho Panda" is the mascot for the PHX's Chinese-Mexican fast-food restaurant Chino Bandido Takee-Outee, and Chino pictures the fun-lovin' critter seated on the floor with legs spread wide, a huge grin on his kisser as he's about to dive chopstick-first into a bowl of wok-prepared eats. A giant stone version sits in Chino's otherwise spare dining hall at the 19th Avenue location, and his rascally image fills tee shirts and murals.

But the 15-year-old Chino is more than a mascot. Chino Bandido offers a unique combo of Mexican and Chinese creations atop rice, everything from chile relleno and Chinese barbecued pork to the spicy jade red chicken and pollo diablo. Burritos and quesadillas are also available, and for dessert -- cinnamon-sprinkled snickerdoodle cookies like the kind you used to get in grade school. Chino's opened another location this year in Chandler, but we think there should be a Pancho Panda on every block from sea to shining sea, or at least throughout AZ. Then it'd be a heckuva lot easier for us to quell our jade red chicken jones.

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