Ever since it added its funky self to the Hyde Park mix, I've called the joint Parrilla Grill. But upon closer examination of the sign, where "Parrilla" is in a big, old chile pepperish font and "Grill" follows in a much more diminutive, plainer lettering, it dawned on me that the owners might actually know a little Spanish.
So from now on I call it just Parrilla. Or Grill. Depending on my mood. (In case you are not following, parrilla is a Spanish word for grill, making Parrilla Grill totally redundant.)
And the success or failure of a Parrilla meal also depends on one's mood. If you are in the mood for a burrito or a taco, you are going to be disappointed.
Billed as a "fusion grill," Parrilla takes its fusion seriously: ginger banana chutney smear, a drizzle of alfredo and Thai peanut sauce, fiery Louisiana Cajun sauce served with cilantro lime rice.
Even ordering off the "Classic Burritos and Tacos" menu is a bit of an adventure. My Chancho burrito ($6.25), with a shredded pork base that I allowed the prep chef to dress to her liking, came swimming in what the Grill people call "gaucho" sauce, some kind of mild cheesy mole dressing. Topped with pintos, sour cream, more cheese and medium hot salsa, the Chancho was ... confuso.
Like the breakfast burrito I had the morning prior, it was a bit mushy, with some of the contents squeezing out of the large flour shell. My breakfast burrito, called Forkinsup ($4.75), promised scrambled eggs, tri-tip, barbecue sauce and red potatoes, but again, it was soupy and the flavors melted together in a less than stellar way.
Maybe that's just the fusion part, and I am too much of a burrito purist.
And yet, the non-burritos are still strangely good. With one bite, I thought, "Hey, there's barbecue sauce in there." In the next, I wondered, "Was that green chile?"
They fill you up just about right, and the breakfast burrito came with an orange on the side, a rare and surprising add-on in this restaurant economy.
On my second trip to Parrilla, I got a bite of a Wrap of Khan ($6.75), in which the purple cabbage and chicken managed to retain their personal space within the wrap and were well-complemented by the peanut sauce. But then they threw corn and feta in the mix, and I was confused again. What did I just taste?
It helps that the place is fun as hell. Whether you are stopping in on your way to go base jumping or kayaking or snowboarding, it feels like you should be in some funky mountain town engaged in some slightly reckless extracurricular activity.
Parrilla cultivates this heady atmosphere by offering second drinks on the house to Bogus employees and $5 tacos and Red Bull for Boise High School students (with a valid Boise High School ID).
They also have the whole intellectual fronting thing on the menu. Are we supposed to know who Carlos Sandoval is? Or Melvin Graves? Is it lame to ask? And what the hell is a Gelande Quaffing mug? Do I want one?
Parrilla oozes fun and is just getting more fun every year. What used to be a crowded patio is now a winterized, brushed metal indoor/outdoor bar that is quite a scene at least four nights a week.
So maybe that college nostalgia embedded in the Grill outweighs the very suburban feel of the whole "wrap" concept. And the lunch place/singles bar concept seems to be a winner. We should have more conceptual fusions in B-town. A Jewish delicatessen/salsa dancehall or a Jamaican/Haitian soup kitchen with a slam poetry venue attached.
But hold the feta.
—Nathaniel Hoffman is a Chancho stuck in a Khan's body.