SECOND HELPINGS

Mexican Compromise: Sometimes people want Mexican food with a little less south-of-the-border authenticity than La Guadalupana's, but with a lot more zip than B.F.I.T.'s (see this week's Cafe review).

In fact, that's what I was looking for a couple of weeks ago. Some German friends and their kids were visiting, and they were curious about Mexican food. They made it clear, though, that they were not interested in anything spicier than, say, dark bread. And, needless to say, they weren't interested in exchanging too many marks.

My choice? La Parrilla Suiza. It's a Mexican chain with four Arizona locations, two in Phoenix and two in Tucson. The restaurant specializes in the fare of Mexico City, which means lots of meat and lots of cheese. The food is wonderfully fresh--corn tortillas, for example, are handmade--and the ingredients are high quality.

The two kids, whom the parents said had barely eaten during their American vacation, scarfed down Bistek Suizo, thin slices of grilled beef paired with melted cheese in a flour tortilla.

Herr Dad gobbled up Parrillada Mixta, a mixed grill consisting of beef, mild Mexican sausage, two quesadillas and a stuffed bell pepper. He also did a double take over the wonderful bowl of bacon-flecked charro beans, some of the best Mexican beans in town. Frau Mom wanted pork, so she opted for Chuleta Suiza, diced pork fillet served with tortillas, rice and beans.

And, for dessert, I turned the family on to the charms of steamingly fresh sopaipillas, soaked with honey.

By this time, however, Mom and Dad were feeling pretty darned good anyway, since I'd been turning them on to the charms of frozen margaritas from the moment we sat down. For the rest of the stay, it was their beverage of choice. When we finally sent them on their way to Las Vegas, they seemed determined to set the Western regional Deutschland frozen margarita record.

La Parrilla Suiza is at 13001 North Tatum, across from Paradise Valley Mall. Call 996-6479.

Something's Cooking: Nothing gives food lovers more pleasure than eating. But cooking and talking about food come awfully close.

You can do a little of all three at Les Gourmettes this fall. The cooking school is offering classes with several celebrity chefs, including local talent like Christopher Gross, Vincent Guerithault, Chris Bianco and RoxSand Scocos. Prices range from $40 to $65 for a two-and-a-half-hour session. Call 240-6767.

Juice, Pancakes, Massage: That's what you can get when you eat at Beside the Pointe, at the Pointe Hilton at Squaw Peak, 7677 North 16th Street. Three times a week--from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends--the restaurant will offer massages by licensed therapists with breakfast and lunch. The stress-busting treatment costs a dollar a minute, and, no, you don't take off your clothes.

I used to go out with a masseuse, but we broke up. She rubbed me the wrong way.

 
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