Long ago, in a distant yesteryear, I had written off Parrilla Grill completely.
A finicky vegetarian, my initial visit left me turned off and confused by meaty-carb-loaded combos. Giant tortillas tried to disguise far-reaching fusion food as honest burritos. I watched with dismay as fettuccini alfredo was folded into (it's true) a tortilla. And I left, deeply disturbed.
Years later, many friends remained loyal followers, citing favorites such as the "red-headed step child" (with smoked chicken and Frank's hot sauce) and the "wrap of Khan" (with bamboo shoots and Thai peanut sauce). Eventually, they dragged me back in for another try.
A reformed opportunivore (who eats everything) now, I was suddenly struck by how many varied, healthy options there actually were. When the last nibble of my first fish taco had disappeared—I sighed with regret. Perhaps I had been unfair.
Several years later, I'm a faithful fan myself. So, I panicked recently when I saw a closed sign during normal business hours. Thankfully, they were just closed for a remodel.
I stopped back in last week to check out the changes:
The previously dingy bathrooms and well-worn interior have been sealed away with fresh surfaces, modernized with new fixtures and industrialized with cool, corrugated galvanized steel wrapping around the inside perimeter of the restaurant.
New paint lends warmth and depth as it meets the stained pine trim and windows. Tropical turquoise coats the smaller room where you order. In the newly vaulted and pitched dining room, pumpkin spice saturates the walls and ceiling surrounding the two new skylights. Remember the large and awkward bar area that dominated the room? It's gone now—replaced by an expansive high-top table where groups large and small can sit together, family-style.
The patio still stands; however, patio season and the summer music series "Show Us Your Spokes" has passed us by. But fear not, Parrilla will continue to feature live music. Hilst and Coffey, Mark Ransom and The Quons are all in line to perform soon.
It's been 12 years since Parrilla popped into place—taking over the previous location of the Snow Bunny Café, and their "sorry we're open" sign—long before the corner at 14th Street and Galveston Avenue became a roundabout or the westside became studded with popular eateries. They have added a few menu items over the years but, largely, Parrilla remains unchanged. Employees still seem honored for edginess, good music still seeps out of the stereo and the menu hasn't been compromised for convention or tweaked to trends.
Protein options include hormone-free beef, chicken, salmon, shrimp, locally farmed pork and organic tofu. I still grimace when I hear certain menu items ordered, (such as the "cheesy noodle spidoodle") but the employees never do. This is the real beauty of Parilla: endless options from one simple menu, so everyone gets exactly what they want.
And they never bat an eye at my own crazy combos, like Tex-Mex-Thai bowls or teri-tacos.
Quenching your thirst also remains an easy endeavor at Parrilla. "Uncle Wedgie" makes decent margaritas, micro brews flow from the tap and PBR tall boys still beckon from the fridge. And now that the mountain is open, happy hour (weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m.) is also a great time for après-ski refueling. Single tacos are only $1.25.
Despite all the changes on the inside, however, the parking situation still sucks. On the bright side, it does make for some good people-watching when Moby Dick-sized suburbans swing in from the road, unwittingly entering the spot of no return where they can't go forward or back more than a foot without clipping something.
Despite lack of control over lot size, Parrilla remains a committed member of the community and continues to provide affordable, quick and casual meals. Source Weekly readers agreed, voting Parrilla Grill "Best Burrito" in Bend this year. Maybe it's the tasteful new remodel, or the way they ring the bell when my tip hits the jar, but whatever it is, Parilla keeps me coming back for more.
635 NW 14th St.
11 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week