“It looks like a new chain restaurant is opening in Parkland,” a reader messaged.
It’s a chain restaurant they didn’t recognize. Neither did I.
The restaurant is Pico De Gallo Mexican Grill, which opened Monday on Pacific Avenue not far from Pacific Lutheran University. It’s a fast-casual Mexican restaurant modeled to be quick service, much like a Chipotle or Taco del Mar.
If it looks like it is a franchise restaurant with a slick logo and a handsome dining room, that’s probably because its owners have operated various franchises in the past.
This one, however, is independently owned and the first of its kind, said co-owner Paul Dhillon, who operates the restaurant with wife Anshu Dhillon and business partner Ismael Preito. They have plans to expand the concept and open other Pico de Gallo Mexican Grills.
“It’s simple, clean, neat, and we have healthy food,” said Dhillon. “We’re making it all fresh ourselves.”
He said he has a background in cooking Indian food. His business partner has a background in Mexican cooking. When they were trying to figure out what kind of restaurant concept to open, they couldn’t decide on Indian food or Mexican food.
They flipped a coin.
Mexican food won, and Pico De Gallo Mexican Grill was born.
The restaurant probably will appeal broadly to families on-the-go and nearby Lutes looking for a dining deal. They’ll find it here.
Here’s a first bite look. It’s this paper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.
Dining room: Compact 24-seat restaurant with seating for groups of two to four, plus one communal table. Order at one end of the counter, pick your toppings/fillings and pay at the other end of the counter.
The menu: A one-price-fits-all experience. Pay $7.50 for a trio of tacos, a one-pound burrito, a quesadilla, a rice-beans-meat bowl, a salad or nachos — all with a choice of meat, fish or veggies.
Kids: Kids meals — a bowl, salad or quesadilla — are $5 each.
Toppings: As many as you want, although there is an additional charge for double meat. Topping choices include pinto or black beans, white or brown rice and a choice of chicken, steak, carnitas, fried fish or fajita veggies. Other toppings include pico de gallo, house salsa, a verde salsa, medium salsa, hot salsa, roasted corn salsa, romaine lettuce, shredded cabbage, shredded cheese and sour cream. Guacamole available for $1.10 to $2.20 and queso ($1.10) also offered.
Salsa: Find three kinds on the serve-yourself salsa bar, plus lime wedges.
Drinks: Serve-yourself soda fountain, plus horchata and agua fresca.
On a first visit: Dig into the carnitas taco with juicy pork. I opted for the lime-spiked pico de gallo topper. It was a good call. Shredded cabbage and pico de gallo were tasty atop the fried fish taco. All tacos served in doubled-up corn tortillas (flour also available). Bowls are an excellent value. I built mine with pinto beans, brown rice, grilled peppers and onions, roasted corn salsa, a bit of romaine lettuce and cheese.
Containers: Compostable, a nice touch.
Under consideration: They’re looking at delivery via DoorDash and UberEats right now.
Pico De Gallo Mexican Grill
Where: 14125 Pacific Ave. S., Tacoma
Info: 253-433-7819, mypicodegallo.com
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.