Penelope and I ate at La Parilla twice in the last few weeks. Penelope had been bugging me for months to try La Parilla, as it won the LA Downtown News best mexican restaurant award in 2005. If it was up to me I would try every Japanese restaurant in Little Tokyo before anything else, but when in a relationship on has to compromise from time to time.
The waitresses at La Parilla all wear frilly dresses and are very friendly and attentive. We chose to sit outside on the patio on our first visit and I found the paintings of Charlie Chaplin interesting. Later I found out via the LA Conservancy Curating the City map that the house originally belonged to a Charles Chapman which the painters of the murals mistook for Charlie Chaplin.
The first time we went we ended up ordering a massive bowl of guacamole and a steak and chicken molcajete. At La Parilla, a molcajete is a stone pot that is scorching hot and filled with chicken, steak, scallions and nopalitos (cactus) smothered in a smokey rich red chile sauce. The molcajete is served with piping hot, homemade corn or flour tortillas and plates of beans and rice. It was probably too much food for 2 people, but we almost managed to finish it.
One our second trip to La Parilla we started with the Queso Fondue with Chiptole, which was served with fresh corn tortillas which we hastily devoured. For my entrée I went for my all time favorite Mexican dish, Mole. For those of you who haven’t tried Mole before, it will probably sound weird at first, but give it a try before you knock it. Mole is a sweet, spicy and savory sauce made with chile and Mexican Chocolate. At La Parilla it is actually a bit too sweet for me, but was still quite good.
Penelope, who seems to have taken a liking to cactus, ordered the shrimp stuffed nopalitos. They were really quite delectable with bite-sized chunks of plump shrimp, and a tangy chile verde sauce topped with cheese. The servings are huge so if you order an appetizer you should be ready to take some of your meal home.
At the end of our meal we heard we heard a guitar begin to play some lovely music and we say this fellow Mateo (AKA Matthew Stoneman) playing it. Then we heard what we though was a recorded song begin to flow over the guitar and we realized that the man playing the guitar was also singing. He was quite good and we were really impressed. So impressed we bought one of his CDs that he recorded in Cuba with the Buena Vista Social Club.