August 4, 2022

Mr. Pancho’s is super delicious

EAST ALTON – I finally got to Mr. Pancho’s Mexican restaurant in Eastgate Plaza and I’m so happy.

It’s super delicious and it’s different, with its own signature. I’ve had items that are on the menus of other restaurants that are on Mr. Pancho’s menu, such as tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc., but Mr. Pancho tastes even better and looks like something I’ve never eaten before.

As usual, I usually order a few things; I’m saving a dish for later. I ordered Texan tacos and also Mexican enchiladas at the festive restaurant at 119 Eastgate Plaza in East Alton.

The Texas tacos come with pico de gallo, but no individual onions, which I love, but my friend Charlie, who I shared the dish with, does NOT. The order comes with three tacos in a flour tortilla with lettuce, pico de gallo and cheese, with a choice of carne asada, chorizo, grilled chicken or carnitas. I chose chorizo, my favorite topping for tacos.

The other wonderful dish I had at Mr. Pancho was the enchiladas Mexicanas, which are three enchiladas – one chicken, one beef, one cheese – with rice and beans, but also topped with pico de gallo, cream sour and avocado salad – included, no need to order on the side for an additional charge.

Tacos are conveniently wrapped in foil for an easy take-and-eat meal. I took my tacos to the Fuller Dome at Western Illinois Rail Park (Watco), 435 N. Old Saint Louis Road, also in East Alton. It may seem like a strange place to have lunch or dinner, but I’ve always admired R. Buckminster Fuller. When I went on a road trip to Los Angeles, I was lucky enough to be able to stop at the giant Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona, and along the way discovered a smaller version of the East Alton Fuller Dome.

In the dome 37 miles from Flagstaff, the first business established was a Texaco gas station, in 1938, in Meteor City, never named after a city. It was a trading post.

My curiosity about Fuller piqued in 2005 when I started working in Madison County, home of the Center for Spirituality and Sustainability at Southern Illinois University. The center’s vision is to preserve the Buckminster Fuller Geodesic Dome in Edwardsville as the physical embodiment of Fuller’s philosophy; Fuller is considered by many to be the father of the modern sustainability movement.

Madison County is also home to the Watco Co. LLC Dome, the second geodesic dome designed by Fuller and built by the Union Tank Car Co., following the success of the first Union Tank Car Dome in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Wood River landmark was ‘closed’ in September 2019, but when I visited ‘the dome’ as the locals call it, the doors were wide open. Cars were parked inside.

The Buckminster Dome House, at 815 S. Illinois Ave., Saluki Plaza, Carbondale, is commonly referred to as the “Bucky Dome” by locals. This geodesic dome is one of Fuller’s most enduring legacies.

Fuller favored a systems approach to problem solving and coined the term “synergy” to capture the principle that when engaged in cooperative action, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The geodesic dome, based on a natural pattern of interlocking triangles, is a structure considered one of the strongest and most efficient known to mankind. The dome was used as a prototype for all subsequent domed houses and is open for tours.