La Parilla Suiza, a family-owned restaurant responsible for bringing Mexico City food to Arizona-residing mouths since 1969, has deep roots in Tucson’s food scene, with three locations in the UNESCO City of Gastronomy, plus another two in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The recipes are drawn straight from family tradition, and many items from the original menu continue to be served today.
In the mood for gobs of melty queso and a margarita or two, I grabbed a couple friends and headed to La Parilla Suiza’s Speedway location for dinner. A complimentary trio of salsas and fresh corn chips set the stage for the rest of our meal and helped take the edge off out appetites. Gilbert Aguilar, the general manager for the Speedway location, says the salsas are made fresh daily, and I found the green tomatillo salsa to be particularly outstanding, which Aguilar credits to the combination of tomatillo and avocado used.
For my drink, I figured go big or home: I ordered the Cadillac Margarita ($9.99), which is made with 1800 Tequila, Grand Marnier and fresh lime juice. Available blended or on the rocks, this is a large drink and will easily last an entire meal (and mine did).
As for the melty queso: we ordered the smaller Queso Suizo ($8.49 serves 2) as an appetizer for the table, and proceeded to shovel heaping spoonfuls of cheese into hand-sized flour tortillas. While the Queso Suizo can be ordered with a topping of chorizo, I found the cheese and tortillas alone to be a rich and flavorful dish as-is.
Our entrees arrived in short order, with the award for most dramatic presentation going to the Parillada de Pollo ($15.99). Delivered on a table grill loaded with live coals to keep the dish hot, the Parillada was a colorful jumble of sautéed chicken breast, bacon, onions, and bell peppers intended for scooping into handmade corn tortillas, and came with a side of charro beans. Aguilar tells me La Parilla Suiza makes the masa in house daily, and the tortillas are made throughout the day. Walking past the open kitchen, we watched more tortillas being made, the cook’s hands scooping masa and transforming it into small flat circles waiting for their turn on the griddle.
For those looking to feed an outsized appetite, the Platillo Mixto con Bistek combination platter ($12.99) promises not to disappoint. Two bistek tacos and a single-person serving of Queso Suiza topped by chorizo, grilled bell peppers, and avocado (with more tortillas ready and waiting), along with side portions of rice and charro beans, occupied what was easily the largest plate on our table. The chorizo, bell peppers, and avocado take the cheese-in-tortilla portion of the dish up a notch in complexity of flavor, and the bistek tacos were true to their street food origins: simple and satisfying.
As luck would have it, my own entrée turned out to be my favorite: the Enchiladas Suizas ($12.99), filled with chicken and soaked in La Parilla Suiza’s housemade red enchilada sauce, with charro beans and rice on the side, packed a ton of flavor into three of those fresh corn tortillas. The sauce, made with ancho and guajillo chiles, brought a gorgeous smoky flavor to the dish and played off well against the well-salted chicken.
We finished our meal with an order of Flan ($5.25): creamy and thick, with just the right amount of caramel, it was the perfect way to round out our meal. We left La Parilla Suiza reminded of why they remain a go-to spot for Tucson Mexican cuisine, and looking forward to our next visit, both in the near future and likely in the next 50 years.
La Parilla Suiza
5602 E Speedway Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85711
See a full list of locations on the La Parilla Suiza website: LaParrillaSuiza.com