El Paragua Restaurant

Surely you’re joking. Good food in  Española? Well, yes. No joke.

First visit: April 29, 2013
Next visit: soon 
 

Paragua Panorama

Watch for the logo

Watch for the logo

It all stared with “The Stand.”

If you’re looking for a casual, excellent taste of Northern New Mexico and Mexican traditional favorites and you happen to be within a fifty mile radius of Santa Fe, watch for a colorful beach umbrella logo identifying El Paragua restaurant.  The logo and the food products are constantly recognized by locals as “best” in the area.

One of the dining rooms

One of the dining rooms

El Paragua is the outgrowth of what locals referred to as “The Stand,” which morphed into El Parasol, which is now a quick-fix taco/enchilada stand just next door to El Paragua.

The rooms are outrageously beautiful. Just inside the lobby, there is a huge tree growing up through the roof (hence the name “The Umbrella”), which is visible at the left of Paul Pacheco in the panoramic photo at the top of this review.  Read the history on the restaurant’s Website.

The Food

So the place is beautiful and warming. Is the food any good?

And how.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and Salsa

Chips and Salsa

These are lightly fried and lightly salted delicious chips. The salsa, house-made, is a red and geen jalapeño-based concoction that borders on being really hot.  This is very tasty stuff indeed, and I rank it very high on the New Mexican salsa scale.

You might get hooked.

Menudo Rpjp

Menudo Rpjp, among the very best I have had.

Menudo Rojo 

Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup made with beef stomach (tripe) in a clear broth or with a red chili base. Usually, lime, chopped onions, and chopped cilantro are added, as well as crushed oregano and crushed red chili peppers.
Menudo is usually eaten with tortillas or other breads, such as bolillo or sopaipillas. It is often chilled and reheated, which results in a more concentrated flavor. The popularity of menudo in Mexico is such that Mexico is a major export market for stomach tripe from US and Canadian beef producer.

Sopaipillas

Sopaipillas

The version served here is just short ob being incendiary (the  way I like it), and is served with  Sopaipillas, which  are very good. 

Preparing menudo can be somewhat tricky. If the tripe is not cleaned and cooked properly, the result can vary between tough (chewy) or slimy and overdone. This tripe is the very best that I have encountered, and the whole dish is as perfect as I could expect. Paul had this dish, too, and agreed that it was superb.

GCCB

Green Chile Cheeseburger

Green Chile Cheeseburger 

Those of you who know my tastes will remember that I will always try a Green Chile Cheeseburger (competition style, of course).  But a good menudo always trumps a good GCCB. Rising to the occasion, Jane ordered the GCCB with garnish. She hates menudo.

The GCCB was very good, juicy and nicely cooked, but not good enough to make its way to my GCCB Hall of Fame. The green lacked sufficient piquancy for me. The fries were just ok.

Chicken Chalupa

Chicken Chalupa

Chicken Chalupa 

Judy tried the chicken chalupa, which I usually shun.  It looked great, and she loved the taste. Chicken was moist and tender.

Accompanied with pretty good beans and rice.

Nice meal.

Capirotada

Capirotada

Capirotada  

My friend and fellow gastronome, Gil Garduño, told me some years ago that the capirotada here is excellent. Both he and I suffer from the  Bread Pudding Fixation Disorder (possibly genetically linked), so O was compelled to try this version.

It was great. Properly savory, and not too sweet. Wow. Second best that I have ever had.

A Recommendation

I have been driving through Española for five years while on my way to other destinations (to me, Española is not a destination)., such as Taos and Chimayó.  I wouldn’t have guessed that this place could harbor such a really good restaurant. I have been quite dissatisfied with several others here, save Angelina’s (best lamb in Northern New Mexico), which I love.

El Paragua puts Española on my dining destination map. Put it on yours, too.

The Gang

Jane and Larry and Paul and Judy

 

What others are saying

Gil Garduño — New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite

OutsideIf small businesses are the backbone of American commerce, then the good old-fashioned lemonade stand is the spinal cord.  That sagacious metaphor (for which I unfortunately cannot take credit) is an apt description for how El Paragua transcended its humble beginnings to become one of the culinary crown jewels of Northern New Mexico.

“The menu is unlike that of other New Mexican restaurants.  It’s more than an eclectic mix of American, Mexican and New Mexican items and includes a surprising array of mariscos (Mexican seafood) and steak.  The steak selections includes Churrasco Argentino, cooked in a green herb salsa chimichurri and served for two on a hot brazier.  Steaks and fish (try the pan-fried breaded trout almondine) are grilled over a mesquite-wood fire.  For less meaty fare, the lime-basted chicken with apple sauce is a delicious option.”

 Gil’s Rating: 21

 El Paragua Restaurant

Stove (505) 753-3211 

Española
603 Santa Cruz Rd
Española, NM 87532

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2 Responses to El Paragua Restaurant

  1. Gil Garduno says:

    Outstanding review! I’m so glad you enjoyed the capirotada. Was the “bread pudding fixation disorder” a Dr. Jane diagnosis? Does the DSM-V prescribe a treatment? I hope not because I don’t want a cure.

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