Water while Waiting
Several Spicy Sauces, Balsamic, Salt and Pepper
Three Salsas, Limes, Jicama with Hot Sauce
Ceviche of Tuna, Shrimp, Jicama, Tomato, Onions
La Parnita Torta – Loin and Leg of Pork, Beans, Cheese and Avocado
Tlacoyitos Especiales – Pork Loin on Bean and Onion stuffed Shell with Onion, Oaxaca Cheese and Avocado plus Banada Sauce
Tacos Don Julio (Fried Cod/Lettuce/Onion/Mayonnaise,) Squash Blossom and Cheese, Lamb and Peppers, Carmelita (Fried Shrimp/Lettuce/Onion/Mayonnaise)
Banana and Carrot Cake with Guayaba Cream
Amaranth, Cajeta and Chocolate Chips
Told by many that the process of sitting down to a meal at El Parnita is often as complicated as it is rewarding, the restaurant clearly showing a great degree of favoritism when taking diners from a nebulous waitlist back to one of more than a dozen open tables, it was after having already called once the a few weeks prior and again earlier on Friday that a party of two was told the restaurant ‘does not take reservations,’ an answer which a man who identified himself as the manager clearly said was not true as some diners who clearly knew he or the hostess received immediate seating while others were left to sit in the sun for over an hour.
Family owned and operated, a mother and sons’ operation that has been in business doing the same thing for years while becoming more and more popular as tourists discover the combination of elevated street food and a pricepoint of 25 to 95 Pesos per item, it was with several refills of fruit-scented water than guests sat and waited for names to be called, an arrival nearly seventeen minutes before the restaurant even opened seeing nearly 55 minutes of sitting outside even though the seats were less than half-full.
Eventually permitted entry, the delay never explained even though the four-top at which two were eventually sat had now been empty for nearly 45 of the 270 minutes that El Parnita is open Tuesday through Sunday, it was mere moments before a basket containing several Sauces as well as various seasonings, Salsas and sticks of Jicama in a Salt and Spice mixture were presented, the long sticks fresh and crisp while the collection of condiments ranged from mild and Tomatillo based to smoky and downright fiery.
Most certainly a bargain restaurant as far as sit-down options in the area go, the limited hours not really making a whole lot of sense in terms of demand but surely making the lifestyle of a restaurant owner less intense, it was after some brief perusal that decisions were made from a two sided menu focused on dishes generally no larger than a few bites except for a few exceptions, the Ceviche of Tuna and Shrimp one of those choices as the plate that cost just a shade above $4USD included a generous helping of fresh Seafood and Blue Corn Tortillas made in house, the eponymous Torta also a sizable portion with shredded Pork Loin and Leg beneath a thick layer of stretchy white Cheese on a Bun that is robust and crisp on the exterior but at the middle almost pillowy soft.
Known as one of city’s best spots for Tacos, the prices really not much different than the street vendors when taking into account portion, preparation and variety, those looking to maximize their experience at El Parnita are strongly encouraged to take the single-selection that costs a bit per item than the 3-taco platters, the Tacos Don Julio with Fried Cod easily as good as anything found in Southern California at about 1/3 the price while the Carmelita and Squash Blossoms on warm Tortillas were also a great bargain given the quality of the ingredients, only the Lamb falling a bit short as a result of being too finely diced and basically indistinguishable from any other Meat thanks to the overwhelming flavor of Green Peppers.
Enamored with the Habanero Salsa, its flavor more that of smoke and spice than the sort of heat that only seems to blunt any sort of nuance, El Parnita’s “Tlacoyitos Especiales” unfortunately arrived on the heels of a whole lot of more flavorful items and were thus underwhelming save for the acidic zing added by “Banada Sauce,” the desserts featured off-menu consisting of a moist, dense Banana and Carrot Cake topped in a mountain of fragrant Cream and a cup of what was essentially Caramel Frosting and Chocolate Chips mixed with nutty Ancient Grains.