El Parador Cafe
325 East 34th Street, between 1st & 2nd Avenue, Murray Hill, (212) 679-6812
Getting There: 6 to 33rd Street
Murray Hill is not an area that is distinguished for its extraordinary restaurants. In fact the neighborhood is recognized more as a youthful area, with a college crowd, more likely to opt for a slice of pizza at 3am than a pleasant dining experience. Tucked just behind a side ramp for the Queens-Midtown tunnel however, is a satisfying change of pace. Veiled by its unassuming red awning, El Parador Café is a long-established eatery that caters to an older audience for the area. Once inside, the room is filled with a boisterous energy, as the servers hustle in between the cramped tables with hefty plates of customary Mexican fare. The dimly lit bar scene offers a traditional, old fashioned vibe- not surprising considering the restaurant actually opened in 1959- serving many variations of Mexican favorites- tequilas, margaritas, delicious sangrias, and strictly Mexican beers.
Restaurant Review: El Parador Cafe
[img src=http://www.localbozo.com/wp-content/flagallery/restaurant-review-el-parador-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_Exterior 2.jpg]10A view from the street
[img src=http://www.localbozo.com/wp-content/flagallery/restaurant-review-el-parador-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_Baja California Fish Tacos ($18).jpg]00Baja California Fish Tacos ($18)
[img src=http://www.localbozo.com/wp-content/flagallery/restaurant-review-el-parador-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_Roasted Duck Breast.jpg]20Roasted Duck Breast
[img src=http://www.localbozo.com/wp-content/flagallery/restaurant-review-el-parador-cafe/thumbs/thumbs_Roasted Duck Breast 2.jpg]50Roasted Duck Breast 2
The restaurant, while showing off its penchant for Mexican staples, takes necessary risks in offering up some subtle enhancements to modernize itself. For example, the “Jalapenos Rellenos” ($8) can be served with cheese, or chunky peanut butter, and the “Chorizos” ($10) are offered pan fried or sautéed with carmelized onions and doused in a sweet sherry. Both relatively unorthodox pairings. Both supremely savory. Other starters include a wider array of old world cuisine including quesadillas, tacos, ceviche, & enchiladas, all of which are reasonably priced first courses.
Main course offerings like the “Pollo Parador” ($23), which is marinated in a secret recipe blend for 24 hours and needs a full 30 minutes to bake, and the “Bouillabaisse Veracruzana” ($27), a spicy broth filled with fresh lobster, shrimp, scallops, clams, and mussels, are two of the standouts. We also like the “Baja California Fish Tacos,” ($18) crispy to perfection and topped with chunky helpings of avocado and a tangy cilantro salsa. Additionally, our table was fortunate enough to try a delectable daily special: a flawlessly cooked, roasted duck breast, which was tender and topped with a fiery grilled pepper, served with sticky white rice and light field greens, with accompanying raw onion & grape tomatoes.
In an area where you are more likely to see a next day “walk of shame” than you are to find a Five Star restaurant, El Parador Café is a neighborhood gem that serves to combine the flare and liveliness of old world Mexico, with the vigorous contemporary lifestyle of the area.