Today’s guest post is by jennifer rose (jennifer prefers the lower case) who writes at Red Shoes Are Better Than Bacon which you’ll find at redshoesarebetterthanbacon.wordpress.com and, yes, I wish my blog had as catchy a title as hers. I would rank jennifer as perhaps the finest of Mexican blog writers and my only complaint is that she doesn’t write often enough.
Jennifer and I had been reading each other’s blogs and occasionally commenting for quite a few years until, last month, we actually spoke on the telephone. Jennifer lives in Morelia. She has lived there for about 20 years. I asked jennifer if I was going to Patzcuaro and wanted to stop for lunch in Morelia…or if I was coming back from the beach and wanted to stop for dinner in Morelia…where would I go. This is what jennifer told me.
“I have to go to the Parrilla,” announces a friend after we’d planned earlier to just have a simple vegetarian meal in the hood. “I need meat, red meat. I need the P&C.”
A decade or so ago, a single December afternoon at a yacht club in Colonia de Sacramento, gazing over the waters of the Rio Plata, Sting playing softly in the background, created one of my best memories. And I get that same sense of well-being, sitting out on the terrace of my favorite restaurant, under a giant pine tree, looking over the city of Morelia, Las Tetillas de Quinceo looming off to my left, watching tunnels of rain pour over the city. Red wine, a salad, and wood-fired meat and Uruguay unite those experiences.
Whether you live in Morelia or are just passing through town, there’s really only one restaurant you need to know, and that’s Parrilla y Canilla (parrillaycanilla.com), nestled in the southern Santa Maria hills overlooking the city.
Marking its sixth anniversary in June, 2017, Parrilla y Canilla’s story began in 1950 when the owner’s grandfather Juan journeyed from his hometown of Nico Pérez, a tiny Pampas burg in the middle of Uruguay, to the somewhat-larger burg of Ario de Rosales, which would later become the birthplace of Mexico’s favorite crooner, Marco Antonio Solís. Before long, Juan would establish his family in Morelia, where he lived out the rest of his life.
Parrilla y Canilla’s owner and star chef, Omar Guadarrama didn’t start out in the restaurant business. Giving up a career as a futbolista with the Club Atlético Monarcas Morelia, he headed to Uruguay to learn the business, returning to Morelia to recruit his parents Carlos and Lourdes to his team. And the team effort shines through every aspect of the restaurant, the valet, front of the house, waiters and cook staff all working in concert that would put the Ritz Carlton to shame.
But let’s move on to why you’re really reading this blog post: the food. There are no fancy-ass sous vide or mystery ingredients, no chi-chi amuse-bouches here, but a basket of house-baked bread will be the first comestible you’ll find shortly after you’re seated. What you will find is real food and honest cooking with a charrúa touch.
My regular order is the 410 g. vacio (flank steak) a la leña (grilled over a wood fire) and accompanied by romaine lettuce and tomato similarly grilled.
The beef choices range from short ribs, sirloin, New York, and ribeye all the way to a whopping 1.3-kilo picanha, all of which can be accompanied by grilled vegetables, French fries, mashed potatoes or pureed sweet potatoes.
If I’m not having beef, then my second-place order is the salmon odoré, salmon bathed in an herbal and garlic reduction served atop mashed potatoes and surrounded by a fine vegetable julienne. Fresh tuna, shrimp, and dorado round out the pescatarian side of the menu.
Over on the pasta side, the boscaiola, a fettucine dish topped off with chunks of ribeye in a mushroom, basil, garlic and red wine gravy, stands out among the ultra-rich raviolis and risotto. It’s worth losing a few pounds for no reason other than to pack them back on by enjoying the boscaiola. The Aktins evangelists will find their happiness in the lengua Nico Pérez, cold tongue served over a base of onion, parsley and olive oil and topped off with hard-boiled egg.
The Bunyanesque portions at Parrilla y Canilla serve up your money’s worth, meriting sharing or at least providing for a second meal or two at home.
Parrilla y Canilla is unquestionably Morelia’s premier restaurant, the only restaurant I’ve seen in more than four decades of patronizing Morelia’s eateries of every stripe, that’s kept up the momentum, delivering a quality product and stellar service. Unlike other restaurants, it hasn’t played the social media game, manipulating Trip Advisor and Yelp reviews. It just does what a restaurant’s supposed to do: deliver the holy trinity of food, service and ambiance.
Inasmuch as it pains us, we have to discuss Parrilla y Canilla’s shortcomings to prove that this is really an honest review. Here we go: it just doesn’t get iced tea (but then there are probably three restaurants in all of central Mexico that do), there is no 170 g. filet on the menu, and there’s no salsa criolla. All of that’s probably a good thing, since otherwise I’d just move right in.
It’s casually elegant, it’s expensive, it’s the best place in town, but it’s oh, so worth it. Go. You’re worth it.
And in case you were wondering, like Don Day was, canilla means tap.
Parilla y Canilla is located at José Juan Tablada #60, Col. Santa María de Guido, in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico (See map at http://michoacan.travel/en/restaurants/parrilla-canilla.html). The restaurant is open from Monday through Saturday from 1:30 to 11:00 pm and Sunday from 12:30 to 6:00 pm. For reservations, telephone 443 319 8352.