La Parranda in Mérida, Yucatán

During last year’s trip to Mérida, we stumbled across La Parranda, a funky restaurant/bar in the downtown area. With a few great meals and memories under our belts, we came back this year to gather a few more.

Literally translated, La Parranda means ”The Binge”. We did the name proud.

While roaming around the city, we had wandered past it many times. It seemed like your average, touristy kind of place…nothing to write home about. In the evening, however, it gave off a totally different vibe.

In Mérida, on the weekends at dusk, they close off many streets around the central square allowing the restaurants to spill out onto the sidewalks and beyond. It makes for a whole lot more ambiance.

The place has a load of kitsch about it…typical Mexicana abounds. The enormous sombreros are brought out with mock rifles so the customers can pose for cheesy photo-ops. After a few tequilas and Margaritas, it’s hard to resist.

The well-stocked bar that was responsible for this bout of silliness….

A nicely varied menu…some touristy favorites, but quite a few regional specialties. No idea why we didn’t grab some of the ”Mayan’s Cuisine”. Great reason to hurry on back!!

Panuchos are similar to tacos with two exceptions. The corn tortillas are fried until crisp then stuffed with re-fried beans. These are topped with shredded turkey, lettuce, tomato, pickled onion and avocado. With a tangy splash of salsa roja, these are sensational. A superior version of the taco, I must say.

Since my visit last year I’d been craving the Especial Charros .

Beans, al Pastor and healthy portion of ooozy Queso Blanco.

This here spoonful is one thing that makes the journey so very worthwhile. Best bowl of pork and beans…ever!!!

The Fajitas Caribbean was a solid plate…a very ample combo of chicken, beef and prawns served almost sizzling. They were sizzling awhile, but sat for some time while the servers figured out their destination.

Another favorite here is Queso Fundido. This could be translated as “Cheese Fondue”, but it simply means “melted cheese”.

The use of Queso Oaxaca here is perfect…sort of like mozzarella but a touch saltier, an excellent “melting” cheese. With a good and greasy, slightly spicy chorizo, this was a fantastic dish on it’s own. Wrapped up in a fresh corn tortilla and a hit of pico de gallo …even better.

The neat, little ”cornitos” made for a couple of great side-bites.

Following along in the ”cheese and tortilla” theme are the Nachos Con Pollo. Not much to be said here…this is just a big ol’ hefty plate of nachos with a gut-load of moist, grilled chicken. A huge portion…at about five bucks…huge value.

A duo of salsa, roja y verde, kicked things up quite well.

One of the things La Parranda does well is their table-side cookery. From flambéed steak and/or prawns to Crêpe Suzette, it’s always good entertainment!

The downside here is that this we didn’t order this. An adjacent table got all of it. A great spectacle, nonetheless.

For your tequila selection, might I recommend my dear friend, Señor Don Julio.

If you can get your hands on a bottle of Don Julio Reposado, you will be a very, very happy person. This is nowhere near yur average tequila. It has a rich creaminess to it…almost like caramel. If you simply shoot it you’re missing so much flavour. Deep, rich and very, very smooth. A excellent ”lingering” tequila, comprenda?

Down in Mexico, it’s thirty dollars, or so. Up here in Vancouver you’re looking at close to a hundred for a twenty-sixer. That’s a seventy dollar savings on every trip. You can’t afford not to visit!!

If you’re ever down Merida-way, be sure to stop in and prepare to binge…

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