Photo by Garth Guibord.ˇBienvenida ChiCali Cantina! posted on 09/01/2021
Robin Parker’s journey into Mexican food began at a young
age. Growing up as an adopted child in Whittier, Calif., she wanted to be a
part of a big family she didn’t have but connected with a Hispanic family down
“I loved how all of the family members would be in the
kitchen together cooking and all of the smells,” Parker wrote in an email to
the Mountain Times. “I loved how we all sat at the table together eating with
tortillas (no forks) and listening to everyone speaking Spanish, from then on,
I was hooked!”
The latest step in the journey is her new restaurant,
ChiCali Cantina, 68256 Hwy. 26 in Welches (in the Hoodland Park Plaza),
offering Mexican and American cuisine based on her experiences in the Baja
region and in Southern California. Parker noted the menu will appeal to both
locals and tourists, with creative twists on Mexican food “without being too
fussy or fancy.”
She added that menu items will be made from scratch and
using high-quality ingredients, including made-to order guacamole, salsas and
enchilada sauces from dried chiles that are shipped in, their own poblano
cheese sauce for nachos, a house-made ice cream featuring a habanero salted
caramel sauce and seasonal dishes featuring high-quality steak cuts and fresh
seafood, such as stuffed jumbo shrimp. In addition to the Mexican cuisine,
ChiCali Cantina will also offer burgers, specialty salads and beach-inspired
fresh fruit bowls.
The beverage list will include whole fruit and fresh-squeezed
margaritas, tequila flights and other creative cocktails and west coast wines.
“We have put our heart and soul into creating an experience
that represents the same vision and passion that was put into creating our
food, as well as investing in our community,” Parker added. “Our atmosphere
incorporates a sense of being on vacation blending nature, a fun beach-y vibe,
and a warm inviting lounge and outdoor area to gather by the fireplaces.”
The restaurant’s vision stems from her food and travel
experiences, including time spent in the Baja region, southern California and
“We traveled to Cabo annually for about 16 years and were
kindly invited into many kitchens on my travels and learned a lot of salsas and
other dishes, lots of fun,” Parker noted. “From my travels, I always dreamt of
having a place where you can enjoy taqueria style tacos and well-made
margaritas in a great environment.”
She began her career in the industry as a personal chef,
then catered to CEOs at some of the largest companies around Portland and then
spent time on a consulting team that offered front and back-of-house training,
menu development, food costing and more.
Opening ChiCali Cantina offered the unique challenge of the
coronavirus pandemic, adding to the costs of building materials, lead times,
permits and food.
“We are grateful for the ability to build our dream and are
compassionate for our friends and fellow restauranteurs who greatly suffered
the aftermath of unprecedented times,” Parker wrote.
The restaurant will also offer a Mexican-inspired Sunday
brunch featuring fresh-squeezed mimosas, pasilla Bloody Marys, huevos
rancheros, chilaquiles and cornmeal pancakes with candied bacon and
orange-infused maple syrup. ChiCali Cantina is a family-friendly restaurant
(serving cotton candy to kids on Sundays) and has a large patio that is also
dog friendly (with a dog menu).
ChiCali Cantina is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m.
to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to
6 p.m. (the restaurant is closed on Monday and Tuesday). Happier Hour is from
2-4 p.m. daily.
For more information, visit www.chicalicantina.com or call
By Garth Guibord/MT