el paragua and parasol logosLocated just 24 miles north of Santa Fe in historic Española, El Paragua has received national recognition for its New Mexican dishes. With décor that combines the varying influences of the traditional Hispanic culture unique to Northern New Mexico and an atmosphere of quiet elegance, diners can enjoy a relaxing, tasty meal, wine and cocktails to satisfy even the pickiest connoisseur.

History

Luis and Frances Atencio

The El Parasol concept began in 1958 with Pedro and Lorenzo Atencio, ten and twelve years old respectively, selling their mother’s beef tacos and red pork tamales under a patio umbrella on the main street in Espanola, New Mexico. The boy’s business venture was limited to the summer months. Price for a taco was 15 cents and tamales were 10 cents. A good day’s sales totaled a whopping $20.00. Prior to this entrepreneurial endeavor, the one-woman cooking show starring Frances Atencio had played only to colleagues and close friends in addition to her growing family. The two Atencio boys ran constantly from car to car, grabbing tacos and tamales to deliver to the lined-up drivers as their Mom replenished the supply on the patio table. This was an original implementation of the “drive-up window,” although there was no window and no building.

Locals referred to this seasonal venture as “The Stand” and began to urge the family to establish a year around site. This run-to-the-car concept was expanded by Luis Atencio, a El Parasol taco truckplumber by profession, to a small, self-contained recreational trailer, known as the Taco Wagon, converted into a kitchen, much like the modern day mobile food vending units. They expanded the menu from tacos and tamales to other popular items such as hamburgers, tostadas, burritos and homemade desserts between 1964 – 1969. Daughters Dorothy, Olga, and Maria joined Frances in the kitchen. People began to travel from all over northern New Mexico to buy the food which had gained a huge reputation and following. The family adopted the patio umbrella as the logo to remind locals that this was the original Atencio family business, where they could count on receiving exceptional food.

El Paragua

In the early 60’s the growing reputation of the Taco Wagon expanded beyond Northern New El Paragua exteriorMexico and Luis and Frances converted the centuries old family tack room in their family compound to a formal dining setting with full bar service and named it El Paragua denoting a sophisticated version of the original umbrella stand. El Paragua attracted locals and celebrities as “the place” to be seen. Frances created new dishes, setting the standard for excellent New Mexican cuisine.

El Parasol

History has a way of repeating itself and in the busy life style of the 1980’s, there was again a high demand for a quick fix version of the famous sit-down El Paragua and the Atencio family renamed the original stand El Parasol and provided walk up to the window carry out which still stands in and 8×10 food booth adjacent to the restaurant. Family members, extending to the third generation have franchised four additional El Parasol locations between 1999 to 2008.

Over the years, El Paragua has expanded greatly, but one thing has remained constant: they still provide delicious New Mexican dishes to satisfied customers, each meal culminating in a delicious, massive sopapilla.

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El Paragua
603 Santa Cruz Road
Española, NM 87532
(505) 753-3211

Hours
Monday-Thursday: 11am-9pm
Friday: 11am-9:30pm
Saturday: 10am-9:30pm
Sunday: 10am-8pm

El Parasol

Hours
Varies by location

Española
Highway 68 Travel Center
State Road 68
Ohkay Owingeh, NM 87566
(505) 753-8226

603 Santa Cruz Rd
Española, NM 87532
(505) 753-8852

Los Alamos
1903 Central Ave
Los Alamos, NM 87544
(505) 661-0303

Pojoaque
30 Cities of Gold Rd
Santa Fe, NM 87506
(505) 455-7185

Santa Fe
1833 Cerrillos Rd
Santa Fe, NM 87505
(505) 995-8015

298 Dinosaur Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87508
(505) 995-8226

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