Dinner Out At Gloria's In Walnut Park

G-L-O-R-I-A, Gloria!

For 32 years, the Sanjuan family has been serving Mexican cuisine at Gloria's restaurant and bar in Walnut Park. People like Laura Hernandez, Sandra Rosales and others recommended the restaurant on our Facebook page. Lots of compliments for the parrilladas and the Normita Borracha.

Huh? Turns out a parrillada is kind of a bbq; a small pile of charcoal is placed at the bottom and then a flat tray is placed atop. At Gloria's, the parrillada acts as a warming dish. Second generation owner Juan Sanjuan shared with me the the Parrillada Mixta, that's carne asada, tripe, chicken, fish, scallops, shrimp along with potatoes and platanos, piled atop the parrillada.

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The fresh frozen Gulf of Mexico shrimp is sweet and tender, the carne asada is prime rib eye and the scallops are lightly battered and tasty. We saw parrilladas on nearly every table. Grab a hand made tortilla, add a spoonful of the hearty beans, some guacamole and if you like it hot, alot of the salsa parrillada, then your meat of choice. I had the carne asada, great char flavor from the grill and the 48 hour marinade. The salsa parrillada is made fresh daily with two kinds of chile. Umai!

Another oft recommended dish, the aguachile. This is a chile-spiked shrimp ceviche. It's as pretty as it is tasty. The butterfly shrimp are laid out on a plate with cucumber like the petals and leaves of a flower; a pile of shredded carrots and slivers of red onion add color, as well as a sprinkle of Tajin on each cucumber. Second generation owner Juan Sanjuan said, the best way to eat this dish is to take a cucumber, lay the sweet shrimp on top, then garnish with the red onion and carrots. The whole mouthful is a great combination of citrus, sweet, crunch and spice. Wait a second and you'll feel the pleasant burn from the lime/serrano chile mixture that "cooked" the shrimp.

Adventure eaters might want to try the tripitas or the tripe. The tripitas look like deep fried macaroni. Kind of freaky, if you look too closely and not everyone will like that fatty flavor and cartilage-y texture. I enjoyed them taco style but I can't imagine having more than one.

There's also an off the menu item worth tasting; chicharron de pollo. Chicharrones are typically pork rinds, but this version uses chicken marinated in adobo. It's flour dusted and deep fried. It's meatier than a classic chicharron. Actually, the tripitas reminded me more of chicharrones than this version but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy them.

Another speciality of the house is Gloria's ceviche. Or you can order the "ceviche the way Juan eats it." Juan says he wanted a creamier version of ceviche so there's more creaminess than acid in this ceviche. Fresh avocado is mashed and mixed with shrimp and fish ceviche. There's also chopped tomato and serrano chile. Squeeze a little lime over the top and eat with a tostado. Umai, umai!

Are you still wondering about the Normita? The Normita Borracha is one of the signature cocktails; what looked like a soup crock is filled with tequila, fresh lime juice and Sprite. The drink is finished with a bottle of Corona stuck in the crock mouth side down. Quite the sight and daunting.

There's also a Mango Chamoy Margarita, that looks like the face of a halved peach. Chamoy is a sweet and salty condiment that gives the ying of the mango a little yang. It's a more complex and interesting flavor than a salted rim. For something less sweet, more vegetal, there's a cucumber Margarita with fresh cucumber and a dash of Tajin chile lime powder.

Finally, in case you're wondering, there's no Gloria in the kitchen. But she's a part of the restaurant's history. She was the daughter of the first owners, before Juan Sanjuan, Juan's father decided impulsively to buy the place. Patrons are so glad he did, because 32 years later, they're still filling the tables.

Gloria's Restaurant and Bar

www.gloriasrestaurantandbar.com

7823 Pacific Blvd.

Walnut Park

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