Sometimes when you have a goal in mind, you have to search for years to reach the goal that you've set your sights on. Everybody is different, and everybody sets their sights on a different goal, and the sky is the limit on what you want to accomplish with your life. To the athletically-inclined, maybe its running a marathon, climbing Mt. Whitney, or climbing Mount Everest... ? For the politically-inclined, maybe its becoming a U.S. Senator, or maybe the even the President of the United States? Who knows? Other famed athletes, like my hero Joey Chestnut, set his goal on becoming the hot dog king of planet Earth, and yes... he did manage to achieve the lofty title of the Hot Dog King! Oh Hail to the King of hot dogs, Joey Chestnut! As for myself, my goal was always a little tamer, and my goal was to experience a taco, in Sacramento, that was fabricated from chewy, tripas, which are small intestines (not stomach lining, e.g. tripe) and cooked just the way I've enjoyed tacos de tripas during my trips to Mexicali in particular, and Mexico in general. I achieved my goal in life when I stumbled into El Parian Taqueria, located on Watt Avenue, in North Highlands, e.g. Sacramento, California.
Left: El Parian is located along busy Watt Ave. in a building that once hosted a pizza place. Right: El Parian's menu is posted above the counter, or you can grab a small, printed menu that's meant to be taken home by its customers, and used for future reference. Monica is behind the counter.
I drive by the place every day on the way home from work, and I had keenly observed the transformation from a defunct pizza restaurant to a fully-functioning taqueria. Yet, due to many excuses, personal issues and other oddities that seemed to plague my life, I wasn't able to pay an "official" visit to El Parian until September 14, 2007, when I was able to enjoy a delicious meal, take photos, and write the article that you're reading, and post it on my web site.
Photo: Left to right... Eric, Javier and Monica pose for my digital camera in the squeaky-clean kitchen at El Parian Taqueria.
El Parian Taqueria has ample parking, as its located in a very suburban area of Sacramento; actually it's located in North Highlands, an unincorporated suburb located north of Sacramento, near ex McClellan Air Force Base. You walk into the taqueria, and the counter is to your immediate left, and of course, the kitchen is located in back of the counter. El Parian has a huge menu posted above the counter, and they also include printed menus that are free of charge... you just grab one, as they're placed on the counter. Anyway, as you glance at the menu, friendly Monica appears at the counter and she'll take your order, in, surprise... English... despite the fact the traditional Mexican "banda" music is playing in the background. If your genre is Spanish, it's ok, as either language is spoken at El Parian... Anyway, if you're in the mood for a taco, you'll gaze at the taco menu, which offers regular, super, vegetarian, crispy, salad, or even fish tacos. Meat choices? Well, how about asada, pollo, pollo asado, carnitas, al pastor, chile verde, lengua, chorizo, buche, tripas, cabeza ... can you beat Taqueria El Parian for a choice in meat fillings? Especially in California, and specifically in Sacramento, errr... North Highlands, El Parian offers the best selection of taco fillings.
Not to labor on a point, but how many Mexican restaurants offer genuine "tripas," the small intestines of cows? Sure, many restaurants offer "trips," but they're just cut up, deep fried honeycomb tripe. El Parian offers the real thing, grilled tripas, just as I've enjoyed on the streets of Mexicali, and other Mexican cities.
Left: I took this photo looking from the rear of the dining room toward the counter, to show you how nice and spacious El Parian's dining room is. Right: The slasa bar, which includes fresh, in-house made tortilla chips, pickled salsa and vetetables, and some of the most delicious salsa that you'll ever enjoy. I especially enjoy their chipotle-based salsa cruda and their runny avacado salsa, which goes great on tacos de tripas...
After my eyes had been bedazzled from the meat choices from the menu, posted above the counter, I naturally had to order a couple of regular tacos from Monica, who was happy to take my order with a smile. When you order "con todo," as I always do, your taco will include your choice of meat, plus diced onions, cilantro, and salsa, placed on a soft, CD-sized corn tortilla. However, there is more to the experience, as if you desire additional garnishes, you only have to turn to your right to witness the all-you-can-eat chips and salsa bar. Naturally, since I'm a fan of "exotic" meats, my taco filling of choice gravitated toward "tripas." Of course!
Monica is the counter girl, who happily takes your order, takes your money, and offers the reassurance of a delicious meal, and a friendly smile. Behind the counter, and Monica, the real business takes place, as Javier and Eric cut up vegetables, make salsa, prepare, and cook your meal in El Parian's spotlessly-clean, stainless steel kitchen. El Parian may serve some of the most delicious Mexican food that I've had the pleasure to enjoy in Los Estados Unidos, but their kitchen is anything but rustic, as its modern, and spotlessly clean. As far as spotlessly clean, you can apply that term to the whole restaurant, as El Parian is spotlessly clean. After you've paid for your order, you'll receive a plastic thing to place on your table, so Javier or Eric and deliver your meal to you.
Photo: Monica, Javier, and Eric pose for my camera, behind the counter and in their kitchen. These folks are not only very friendly, but they're hard workers, and they're proud of the quality product that they produce.
Oh yes, if you like beer, El Parian offers many brands of Mexican beer, and a few American beers are included on their menu. After you've placed your order with Monica, you might want to sit at the many comfortable tables in the dining room, and sip a beer of your choice. After taking a couple of sips of beer, you might want to venture to the chips and salsa bar...
While you wait for your meal to arrive, you have a treat in store, as if you're dining at the restaurant, you have the carte blanche treatment at the full-service chips and salsa bar. If you're a takeout customer, you'll enjoy the privileges, albeit the privileges come with a little more work, as you have to fill small containers with the salsa of your choice, and load your chips into a paper bag. If you're a dine-in customer, you can relax, and help yourself to some of the freshest corn tortilla chips that I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy. Your condiments, served gratis at the salsa bar, include delicious salsa cruda, chipotle salsa, which seems right with every meal, picketed veggies, plus a runny avocado sauce which seems to go well with everything. Oh, did I mention the salsa bar includes mountains of freshly fried tortilla chips? The salsa bar alone is worth the price of admission.
Photo: Monica, Eric and Javier are caught performing their kitchen duties, and doing their jobs with a smile, as usual. These folks provide fast, friendly service, and delicious food at a very reasonable price!
Within minutes, your order arrives, served by one of the friendly waiters. How many restaurants in the greater Sacramento area, or even the State of California offer real tacos de tripas. No, I'm not talking about fried honeycomb tripe, but real tripas, which are smal, beef intestines, the kind you'd expect to find in Mexico, fired, or cooked over an outdoor grill. I've NEVER been able to fine another restaurant in Sacramento that really serves real tripas, so if you're a fan of real tripas, El Parian is the place to patronize.
Regular tacos are priced at $1.65 each, which is a little steep, but when you consider that each taco includes two CD-sized corn tortillas, your choice of meat from the previously-describes an abundance of meat fillings, an all-you-can-eat chips and salsa bar, the price lowers to the reasonable level. When you factor in the friendly service, the un-rushed atmosphere, the all-you-can-stuff-down-your-face salsa and chip bar, the price of a taco at El Pariaan Taqueria seems to be an absolute bargain. Order two tacos, spend a bit of time at their salsa bar, and you have a delicious lunch or dinner, well under the $5.00 limit.
Photo: Two tacos de tripa, garnished with El Parian's runny avacodo salsa, and chipotle pico de gallo. The tripas are chewy, delicious, and remind me of the way fine tripas are prepared in Mexicali. Simply delicious!
I write about a lot of restaurants on my web site, and I eat at many places, but in desribing restaurants, I tend to avoid the use of absolute superlatives, which is a definition that I learned in College English, that is used to describe only the finest, the best, and, well... the absolute. Absolute superlatives apply when describing El Parian Taqueria, as I can't really think of anything else to describe the restaurant without using words such as best, wonder ful, superior that could be used to describe the delicious cuisine, the friendly service, the quality presentation, and the overall dining experience to be enjoyed at El Parian Taqueria. Do yourself a favor; dine at El Parian. Highly recommended, by your web editor.
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