Alex Alejandro of El Parador Café Reveals the Secret to a Good Salsa: Interview Part 2


Yesterday we spoke with Alex Alejandro of El Parador Café, who told us about what it was like working alongside his family in the restaurant business and explained the parallels between cooking with ramps and having a good sex life. Today he tells us about his future plans and explains why the barbecue grill is the best invention ever.

Your menu says that if there’s an old favorite that you don’t see, you can ask for it. Does that mean your clientele has been coming to the restaurant forever?

Yeah, we have a great demographic. We maintained our old clientele, but we get a new one daily. We have taste, quality, and service. Good food is to be found in many places in Manhattan, but service isn’t.

Have you thought about expanding or doing a cookbook?

I’m working on a cookbook. I’ve been talking to a friend who has a company and he has been looking into production and editing and figuring out the chapters. But it’s a process — we’d need someone to test the recipes. The measurements for a book are different than here at work. I’m doing everything myself so it takes time. Expansion? Sure, I’ve been thinking about it more and more recently. Parador requires my full attention, but yeah, maybe [I would open another restaurant] somewhere warm. But I love Parador, so I can’t see leaving it soon. But I’d love to bottle the house salsa, which has a following.

What makes it special?

Oh, I think it’s the flavor. First of all, it’s cooked and not raw. And we serve it warm — you just can’t stop eating it. I have people eating it with a spoon. They forget the chips completely! It’s got no tomatoes, just chiles. It’s like an enchilada sauce.

Do you live near the restaurant?

No, I live in New Jersey.

What’s your life outside the restaurant like?

My life outside of the restaurant? So much monotony. I don’t know how I got here. It used to be a lot of partying and fun and now it’s kids and a wife. That’s the thing that stops me from thinking about expanding — my family. My kids are young and they still like me so I try to spend as much time with them. We’ll go to the park or fly kites and ride bikes.

What do you guys have for family dinner?

I use my barbecue year round. We make a lot of salads. We need to cook for us and for the kids, so a lot of times we can’t be too creative. But I really enjoy simple cooking. I’ll roast some vegetables and potatoes. And we really like rice dishes with shrimp or mussels, and the kids really love pasta. But the grill — thank God for the grill!