Mini-Review: La Parrilla’s Yucatán-inspired cuisine must be tried

Tacos de Cochinita: two rolled tacos filled with pork, marinated in achiote, orange juice, spices, slowly cooked in banana leaves, topped with pickled onions, with beans and onions. Photo by Jay Keyes.

La Parrilla served me the best taco I had during a 3-day weekend taco run in Ventura County last year. The restaurant’s extensive menu of Yucatán-inspired seafood dishes, vaporcitos, panuchos, and molcajetes ought to be carefully explored by locals. I consider large menus to carry inherent risk, as there are more opportunities for one to order the wrong thing, but this possibility seems unlikely at La Parrilla given the quality of what they have served me.

La Parrilla’s Cochinita Pibil Taco ($4.00) is the kind of taco that lets us forget the human struggle for a few minutes, and provides ample evidence that La Parrilla is the real deal. The restaurant’s silky cochinita pibil guisado practically dissolves on your tongue, as tender chunks of pork barely clutch on to buttery bits of fat in a recaudo rojo that perfectly balances a salvo of warm chilis with a delightfully sour tickle of citrus. The taco’s white corn tortilla (which can be upgraded to a handmade tortilla at additional cost) is wrapped around its contents, steamed from the decadent stew within, and then sprinkled with pickled onions and crumbled queso, inviting a spoon-and-knife approach. Carefully pour on some of La Parrilla’s exquisite gut-melting pinkish salsa and prepare yourself for NSFW repercussions.

You may also enjoy La Parrilla’s take on the “Baja-Style Fish Taco” ($4.95), as here the generously-sized flaky white fish filet is covered in an ultra-crunchy golden fried batter, and then dressed with pico de gallo, sliced avocado, bitter strips of red & white cabbage, and a punchy chile cream sauce. A lightly grilled tortilla is just sturdy enough to hold the taco’s bulging contents in place for your ingestion.

I’ve been sitting on this review for fourteen months, and I feel I’ve failed La Parrilla and my readers in Ventura County in that regard. My short trip here was limited to tacos, but one of my most urgent goals for 2022 is to have a proper meal at this restaurant so I can indulge in several of the other Mayan-oriented dishes on the menu — for now, consume this review with the caveat that I feel I have only scratched the surface of what La Parrilla may offer.

Food/Décor/Service: 4.5/NA/NA

Taco Scores: Cochinita Pibil Taco (98), Baja-Style Fish Taco (90)

Jay Recommends: Cochinita Pibil Taco Dinner Plate

La Parrilla100 N Ashwood Ave, Ventura, CA 93003; Everyday from 9:00am-8:00pm; (805) 650-1736;

Baja-Style Fish Taco. Photo by Jay Keyes.
Under the Hood of the Cochinita Pibil Tacos. Photo by Jay Keyes.
La Parrilla’s Incendiary Pink Salsa. Photo by Jay Keyes.
La Parrilla, a Mayan Restaurant in Strip Mall. Photo by Jay Keyes.