Lunch at the Swiss Grill

The Mexican food was great, but the name makes no sense.

I believe that anytime you have an opportunity to dine with a right-wing nutbird, you should seize that opportunity.

Even though some of them scare the crap out of me, and I disagree with many of their views, right-wingers are fascinating conversationalists. They have interesting opinions. (I even agree with some of them.) They are usually passionate and have their hearts in the right place. And they can be unintentionally hilarious, like when they try to claim that George W. Bush was actually "elected" president.

I recently found myself dining with one of these right-wingers. The nutbird--that's Tom Danehy's description of him--in question was Emil Franzi, a Weekly contributor and KTKT 990 AM radio host. Also joining us was another Weekly contributor who did not want to be identified, a fact that made me wonder if he had something to hide. For the rest of this review, he will be referred to as Dweeb.

Anyway, we met for lunch at La Parrilla Suiza's location at 2720 N. Oracle Road, just south of Glenn Street. (There are two other Tucson locations, as well as two in Phoenix and 20 or so others elsewhere.) The wait staff was incredibly friendly, essentially attacking me in an effort to seat me while I looked for my dining companions. When Franzi and Dweeb arrived, we were promptly seated.

We got there before noon, and it was a good thing. Soon after we arrived, the place was packed, and parking spaces were harder to find than ACLU membership cards at a Christian Coalition meeting.

The décor at La Parrilla Suiza is clean and festive--brick walls, stained-glass light fixtures and wall mosaics give it a nice, yet stereotypical Mexican restaurant feel.

And that raises the question: What the heck is up with the name? I am sadly lacking in Spanish-speaking skills--I am a dork for taking German instead of Spanish in high school--but I learned quickly that "La Parrilla Suiza" means "The Swiss Grill." The menu says the place serves "authentic Mexico City cuisine."

Go figure.

They don't even use Swiss cheese in their sopa de cebolla ($3.25), the onion soup I enjoyed as an appetizer. I asked; they use mozzarella instead. So a Mexican restaurant with "Swiss" in the name is using a stereotypically Italian cheese.

Go figure some more.

Fortunately, the soup was delicious--the mozzarella cheese worked nicely with the chicken broth, celery and carrots. The onions were a tad chewy, but that was my only complaint.

Franzi ordered the Parrillada Suiza ($9.99), a top sirloin steak served with melted cheese, charro beans and chorizo. Dweeb ordered the alambre de de pollo con chilaquiles suizos ($8.99): fried corn tortilla triangles served with enchilada sauce, sour cream, melted cheese and two chicken tacos. I got the chicken chimichanga, enchilada-style ($8.98).

Franzi, Dweeb and I are all big guys. Therefore, when I say that we did not leave hungry, that means something. My chimichanga was a masterpiece--fried perfectly. The enchilada sauce was tasty without being overwhelming, and the shredded chicken was moist and abundant. It was one of the best chimichangas I've ever had.

Dweeb pronounced his tacos to be "good," which is a huge compliment coming from him. He said the chilaquiles (the tortilla triangles) could have been a bit warmer; that didn't stop him from chowing down on 'em.

Franzi also inhaled his food, delivered on a table grill. He reported that the cheese was his favorite part (I could make a joke about right-wingers being cheezy, but I will refrain), and that he'd give the charro beans an A grade. He referred to the steak as a "nice little piece of meat." He saved his only criticism for the chorizo, giving it a B because it was slightly bland.

He then amazingly turned this into a rant on political correctness, saying that the worst problem with Mexican restaurants these days is that they tone down spicy dishes because someone once bitched that they were too hot.

"This culture (American business) doesn't want to offend!" he said.

Words that you'd expect from a right-wing nutbird. I may have to do lunch with him and Dweeb again at La Parrilla Suiza sometime soon.