La Parrilla Yucatan Mexican Food
100 N. Ashwood Ave., Ventura

We take the accessibility and quality of Mexican food for granted because of its abundance along our Ventura County streets. After spending nearly 10 months in the Bay Area for school eating nothing but burgers and Thai food — besides the classic college cuisine of ramen and pizza — all I wanted when I came back home was authentic Mexican food.

I found what I was looking for at Ventura’s La Parrilla Yucatan Mexican Food located in the Ashwood Plaza.

Inside La Parilla

La Parrilla has been open for five years, hoping to introduce Ventura County to a different taste of Mexican food — one that is authentic to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The Lopez family has their roots in this part of Mexico, and it is displayed proudly with art and carvings on the seats.

The atmosphere itself was peaceful and I felt immersed in the Yucatan culture. Beautiful décor painted the walls as a soccer match played on the TV.

I was greeted by a friendly face — one of the Lopez sons — and was told that I could sit anywhere I’d like. Having lunch in the middle of a Monday allowed for quick service, as there weren’t many people inside at that time.

While we waited to order, our waitress handed us chips and salsa. Personally, I think that a restaurant’s chips and salsa are the tell-tale signs of whether or not the restaurant is a hit or miss. Luckily, my first impression of the classic combo was a hit. The chips were amazing; I couldn’t believe how the crunchiness of the chips and the mild heat of the salsa fit together so perfectly. I wished I had ordered some chips and salsa to go!

I decided to keep it basic for lunch this time, so my friend and I ordered a cheese quesadilla to start. It came out quickly and hot, seemingly stuffed to the max with cheese. It was delicious but a little hard to eat with oil and cheese dripping down my fingers. We didn’t mind, though, because it was too good to resist.

Keeping in theme with my craving for a classic Mexican meal, I ordered the taco and enchilada lunch combo with a crispy chicken taco and a chicken enchilada. The taco was everything you’d expect. The juicy shredded chicken, cheese, lettuce and pico de gallo fit together nicely in the crispy shell. The enchilada, on the other hand, was a little different than expected: on top was melted cheese and within the soft shell was shredded chicken. What would’ve made the dish even better would have been the addition of sauce.

The combo also came with a side of refried beans and rice. The sides were a little too lackluster in taste and flavor for me but complimented the overall combo. I tended to shovel the beans, rice and enchilada in one bite to add flavor.

One of the most exciting parts about La Parrilla is that while the food is low cost, the quality isn’t. Our lunch totaled about $29, which included the starter and two entrees. In general, starters average $10-15 and dinner entrees are around $15. For the quality and size of the portions you’re getting, I think the price is just right.

My lunch at La Parrilla was a solid experience of classic Mexican cuisine. The standout of the lunch was the crispy chicken taco — it was a good balance of tradition and La Parrilla’s twist of flavor that I haven’t had before.

My only regret was that I didn’t check out some of the Yucatan specialty food items, such as the Enchilada Yucatan. Next time, I’ll be sure to step out of my comfort zone. The Lopez family recently opened DV’s Mexican Grill just down the street on Telegraph Road, which I hope to visit next. 

Lunch at La Parrilla was just what I needed to feel back at home in Southern California, one chip at a time.