La Parrillada in Gainesville grills up authentic Mexican cuisine
By Christine Craddock
While la parrilla is directly translated as “grill” in Spanish, it has also casually come to mean
a barbeque, as in a party where delicious food is served smoking from the grill for friends and family. And that’s how it feels inside La Parrillada, the newest Mexican restaurant in Gainesville. The establishment is owned by the Plasencia family. They also own El Vaquero West restaurants in Haymarket, Orange, Locust Grove, and Lake Monticello. Located in the Madison Crescent shopping center at the corner of Routes 29 and 15, La Parrillada’s music is lively, the atmosphere is bright, the servers are friendly, and the food is authentic.
Manager Mauricio Plasencia says he wants his customers to feel at home here, and enjoy the dishes he helped to create from his experience as a sous chef. Those who already have an appreciation for the food at El Vaquero know the popular downtown Haymarket location can be packed with families on weekend nights and during lunchtime. La Parrillada was opened so more local residents can have the experience of traditional Mexican recipes and ingredients.
La Parrillada has a slightly different feel than the very casual El Vaquero West. A bit more formal in look and design, the space offers one wall lined with high-backed leather and wood booths, and the back room opens up to four-person tables along the row of windows. Meals are served on square, white dinner plates. “We want it to be a little bit fancy,” Plasencia says, “but the low prices will stay the same.”
The focus of La Parrillada is the grill with extensive menu options featuring vegetarian meals, seafood, beef, and chicken seasoned and grilled with traditional herbs and spices. If asked to choose something that highlights the authentic flavor of the restaurant, Plasencia first recommends the nachos texanos. This plate is large enough for a meal in itself, but would also be perfect for a shared appetizer. Crispy homemade nachos are topped with chicken, beef, and shrimp with melted cheese and grilled onions and green peppers.
As a suggested meal, Plasencia points out the tilapia and shrimp—a platter of vegetables and rice mixed with bountiful shrimp and a large portion of tilapia as the cherry on top. In the special dinners section, there are seven different ways customers can enjoy smoking grilled fajitas with choices of shrimp, chicken, mexican sausage, beef, shrimp, and pork along with peppers and onions. Seafood lovers can enjoy the fajitas del mar which includes a trio of seafood served with lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, rice, and tortillas.
With so much to choose from, patrons can dig into burritos, enchiladas, tacos, and quesadillas filled with a choice of meat, beans, cheese, rice, peppers, or even seafood. Nachos and salads can be ordered with ground beef or chicken with beans, lettuce, avocado, or pico de gallo. Other toppings include red sauce, cheese sauce, enchilada sauce, green sauce, homemade salsa verde, salsa ranchero, cheese dip, and sliced avocados.
The lunch menu, available Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., is a perfect way to try something new. Daily specials are prominently displayed on the chalkboard out front for patrons to consider. Not to be outdone by the food, the drink menu is also an experience, with margaritas and the largest beer mugs around for a refreshing Dos Equis on a warm day. Plasencia hopes to add more mixed drinks and martini options in the near future. As an added perk, the outside patio is open and ready to be bustling with people as soon as the weather allows.
With most of the lunch specials priced at less than $10 and dinners not much more, La Parrillada is sure to become a new favorite spot for savory meals for the whole family. Stop in La Parrillada at 7960 Crescent Park Drive in Gainesville or call 571-261-9352 to learn more.