One of the reasons why I wanted to write this blog was to discover the culinary gems in my own city and to rediscover my own favorite restaurants by eating and enjoying food mindfully, so that I am again reminded of why I love that particular place. This week I found a culinary gem that I am definitely adding to my faves list – Parkside. This restaurant has been in operation for while and why it took me so long to check out, I have no idea! But I am so glad I did. My friend and photographer, Melissa Skorpil, grabbed her camera and joined me for a truly tasty happy hour.
Parkside is located downtown on the corner of 6th and San Jacinto. The place is divided into two separate spaces – the bar area and the dining room. We chose to sit on the bar side, which also has a long row of tables along one wall. I found this room to be quite beautiful. The windows along the front allowed in such nice late afternoon light. The space is very urban, with brick walls, exposed ductwork and a stainless steel bar counter - I felt like I was in New York. We arrived as soon as the place opened at 5, but by 6 pm the bar side was completely full. Even with this many people, the noise level was not high, so it was easy to carry on a conversation. Big plus.
Happy hour at Parkside runs daily, from 5 to 7 pm, and includes half off their bar menu, half price beer and cocktails. They have some good beer choices, though all are in the bottle, no drafts. After ordering a Rye Ale from Real Ale, we turned to the bar menu. Oh the choices! The food sounded divine and we didn’t hesitate to dig right in.
We first ordered the risotto fritters – crispy brown balls filled with creamy risotto and covered with paper-thin parmesan cheese shavings, with sofrito (tomato salsa puree) for dipping. A great choice for you vegetarians out there. Next up was the ceviche. Ceviche is one of my favorite foods and, if done well, is pure heaven to me. And this was done well. It’s a basic recipe with bits of salmon, tomato, onion, avocado and herbs and it tasted so fresh, with just a hint of tartness. Yum.
We also ordered the petite grilled cheese. I have one word for this dish – adorable. The cuteness factor alone is enough to order this item – four tiny round sandwiches consisting of buttery bread grilled until slightly crispy and filled with the most divine melted cheese I have ever tasted – Taleggio cheese to be exact. Tiny pieces of smoked onion and roasted red pepper are held on top by a wooded skewer pierced through each sandwich. The dish is garnished with wispy green dill and a swipe of homemade ketchup. This was by far the best grilled cheese we had ever tasted.
Another reason to go to Parkside for happy hour? The price. Most of the items on the bar menu range from $5.50 to $11 – and half off during happy hour is a fantastic deal! I found the quality of the food to be superb and the presentation creative. The chef/owner of Parkside, Shawn Cirkiel, also opened up a pizzeria next door called Backspace, which I can only imagine is fantastic as well (but of course I will need to check this out for myself). His next project that I am anticipating with glee is Olive & June, an Italian restaurant set to open this March in the space once occupied by El Arbol.
My recommendation? Get your hungry little self to Parkside as soon as possible, bring your friends and enjoy some fantastic food at a great price. Another culinary gem just got added to my list – what great restaurant have you discovered lately?