Parranga provides satisfactory bites, colorful atmosphere

Justin Newhard

The dual doors give way to the spacious order area.
The dual doors give way to the spacious order area.

“The main goal behind Parranga is to be the center of the community: we want to bring the community together here and have a fun space with delicious food and entertainment where you can come and see the community,” Parranga manager Ruth Sweet said.

Parranga, a new Mexican restaurant in Strawberry Village, opened seven weeks ago and offers a new take on original Mexican cuisine.

According to executive chef Jose Miguel Smith Bustos, because Marin places a strong emphasis on clean, unprocessed food, almost all of the restaurant’s ingredients are organic and local.

“Every meal here is made from ingredients from this community. Most meals are completely homemade, from the churro batter to the gluten-free, jicama tortillas, which I make from scratch,” Bustos said.

Much of the menu is intended on creating a cohesive representation of all 31 states of Mexico. Whether it is tacos from Baja or rotisserie from Chalcatzingo, the menu serves as an excellent portrayal of the entirety of Mexican cuisine, according to Bustos.

When I first walked into Parranga, I was pleasantly surprised by the interior quality of the restaurant.

The colder toned walls helped to contribute to the masculine feel of the restaurant. Considering the short time it was under construction, I was shocked that they were able to change the space so drastically from The Plant, the restaurant that used to occupy this location. Many of the improvements happened in the kitchen, where they removed the long take-out bar and replaced it with additional cooking space.

Upon walking through Parranga’s main entrance, I was instantly greeted by friendly servers in the modern order area. Above the cash registers was a retro sign that distinctively displays, “Welcome to Parranga,” along with the happy hour schedule (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.), adding to the welcoming atmosphere.

The Little Gem salad with Green Goddess Dressing, along with the Watermelon Basil Agua Fresca.
The Little Gem salad with Green Goddess Dressing, along with the Watermelon Basil Agua Fresca.

I grabbed a menu and slowly perused the different options of tacos, bowls, sandwiches and salads. With so much variety, how could I ever decide? After looking it over again, I settled on the Little Gem salad with Green Goddess dressing, the Asada taco combo, which includes three steak tacos, and pico de gallo with chips and a drink. I chose the Watermelon and Basil Agua Fresca.

On the way to my table, I walked by the complimentary popcorn machine and sat down in front of the neon “Taco Love” sign, which got me excited for my order. Looking around, I noticed there was a giant ping-pong table in the restaurant and a cinema screen adjacent to it; at Parranga, it seems entertainment and enchiladas go hand-in-hand.

After only four minutes of waiting, I was served my salad and drink, which was acceptable considering I was the only patron there, as it was just before the dinner rush started. The colorful lettuce in my salad made my stomach silently cheer with anticipation. A couple of moments later I was served my taco combo.

I thoroughly enjoyed the salad with a kick of peitas. The juicy peeled oranges and cotija cheese were a great addition to the salad, however, I found the lack of dressing made the dish bland.

As for the tacos, I found the steak to be unseasoned compared to other places in Marin, like High Tech Burrito, making it slightly less enjoyable. The pico de gallo was liquidy and would have been more flavorful with extra tomatoes.

My drink was refreshing and would be perfect for a warm summer day—the ideal mixture of pulp and juice made it natural and fresh.

The Carne Combo.
The Carne Combo.

Overall, I enjoyed Parranga’s atmosphere. I found the $16 price for the combo to be slightly more than what matched the quality, however, the salad was correctly priced at a mere $9. I felt like I was given an adequate amount of food for the price.

Considering that Parranga just opened, I hope that they will continue to enhance and develop their current food offerings to bring them up a level. Like most new endeavors, change takes time and I will definitely be going back as they continue to improve.

As I left the restaurant I was warmly waved off by the nice to-go lady, which made up for the minor issues related to my food.