Photo: Camarones a la diabla
Once you’ve passed the heart of Middletown and are working your way towards the winding roads of St. Helena, you’ll pass by La Parrilla Grill. You might not notice it right away, but it’s there on the right side of the road. If you pass The Geysers Visitor Center, you’ve gone too far. La Parrilla’s part taco stand, part restaurant, and is filled with incredible Mexican food. And Lake County’s full of good Mexican joints. But here, you’ll find unique, homestyle dishes you won’t find anywhere else.
Take the molé, for example. It’s a special dish and not a simple one to make, as it requires multiple spices, plenty of time, and lots of skill to make. Trudy and I use it to test out restaurants. If they use a packaged mix, it’s easy to know what the rest of the food will taste like. La Parrilla’s molé is unique, distinct, and flavorful. The chocolate is evident, and it’s not overly spiced or overly sweet. There’s a deep complexity with a long finish that spreads across the palate. It’s filled with exquisite flavor and something special to enjoy and savor slowly.
Or you could try the alambre. “Think fajitas,” we were told, but they’re so different. Our personal favorite is the Cubano, a concoction of chicken, peppers, onion, mushrooms, and an abundance of cheese. They’re full and rich, a medley of flavor that fills the mouth. In my opinion, it requires a healthy dose of habanero sauce. Plus, it makes for great breakfast leftovers. Heat it up and put a fried egg on top.
Camarones a la diabla translates to “The devil’s shrimp” . They’re one of my favorite Mexican dishes. Sauteed shrimp covered in a spicy arbol sauce makes for a good meal. And at La Parrilla, they know what spicy means. If you don’t like heat, go for another dish. Camarones a la diabla are meant to make you break out in a sweat and, in my case, get the hiccups. Get them full spicy, as hot as they make them, and you’ll be warm all night long. But there’s so much more to them than just heat. The brightly colored sauce delights the eyes, and the flavor doesn’t let down. They’re tangy, sweet, and hot, a combination that fills the mouth with flavor. It’s complemented by their salad, topped with a house dressing, pickled onion, and chunks of pineapple.
Truth be told, we’ve ordered just about everything and haven’t been disappointed once. That’s part of what makes La Parrilla one of our favorite places to stop in the south county. Just head inside, close your eyes, and point at the menu. Whatever your finger lands on will be perfect.
La Parrilla Mexican Grill
21389 Stewart St Middletown, CA 95461
Hours: Noon-8 Monday through Friday