Las Parrillitas

Las ParrillitasThey know us by now. And Frieda, too. It’s just like in the movies, where the main characters, despite living in huge cities like New York or Chicago, go to their favorite coffee shop and order “the usual” and the barista knows exactly what that is. Matamoros isn’t quite New York or Chicago, and Las Parrillitas isn’t quite a coffee shop, but the idea is the same, and the customer service is excellent. Plus, they always seem to have a spare bone for Frieda. 

Just two blocks from our house, Las Parrillitas is our favorite restaurant in Matamoros. It’s an outdoor garden with an open-pit grill and a superb waitstaff of young men wearing large sombreros on their heads and smiles on their faces. Upon sitting down, one of the waiters brings us the standard selection of salsas and garnishes: fresh pico de gallo, sliced key limes, a bowl of chopped onion and cilantro, a red salsa that could easily burn the flesh off your tongue, a milder green salsa with an avocado base, and my favorite: a jalapeño salsa that tastes so delicious that you don’t realize how spicy it is until you’ve already eaten half the bowl and your mouth is burning… which you promptly address with a swig of frozen margarita that the waiter brought you, because that is your “usual” and he knows it by now. Accompanying the salsa buffet are lightly toasted corn tortillas… and in our case, toasted flour tortillas as well, because again, that is our “usual” and the waiters bring it without us even needing to ask.
The many salsas and toppings at Las Parrillitas.

The many salsas and toppings at Las Parrillitas.

We went to our favorite spot tonight, the chilliest night since I moved to Matamoros six months ago. It’s pretty amazing how cold 52 degrees can feel after six months at 90 or higher. We sat at a table in the garden, the only diners save for a couple of men who were sitting in the small indoor area of the restaurant. Like clockwork, out came the salsas, the menus, and the tostadas. It also wasn’t long before the young man selling sweet homemade empanadas came to our table. Of course, as usual, we bought a box, because they are absolutely delicious and I am fully aware that we will have access to those homemade empanadas for a finite period.


Sweet empanadas de cajeta.


M. had taken me to Las Parrillitas when I visited him for the first time in Matamoros more than a year ago. From the start, I was in heaven. It’s a casual place, perfect in its simplicity. The food is always fresh and consistently good. On Friday and Saturday nights, the place is packed, the definite sign of a good restaurant. Finding a table after 9:00 pm is next to impossible. Fortunately for M. and me, we have what we call “the gringo advantage”: since we tend to eat earlier than most Mexicans, we never have trouble finding a table at Las Parrillitas.

We go to Las Parrillitas at least once every two weeks, and it’s not unheard of for us to go twice in one week. It offers just about the best comfort food in all of Matamoros, as far as I’m concerned. A definite mood-changer, as my father-in-law would say. If you ever find yourself at the southern tip of Texas, it’s well worth the trip across the border for a stop at this little gem.


Mmmm, margarita!

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