Purple Parrot Grill is well-known for its drink specials, its party atmosphere, its perfect location (what's more fun than those big 6-tops towering over Rehoboth Avenue!?) and for its raucous, campy entertainment. It is not particularly known for its food. But, y'know, I suspect it knows that. The place is so upbeat and so much fun that it's easy to overlook the food (and the occasional spotty service) and just get with the program. Not happy? Then you shouldn't be there. Order another drink.
In all fairness, there are some bright spots on the Parrot's huge menu (as of this writing, 20 appetizers, 10 salads, 28 wraps/burgers/subs and 21 entree platters!). We never miss the Oriental Pot Stickers appetizer. I suspect these arrive at the loading dock frozen, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, they are quite tasty slathered with the bright and salty sesame dipping sauce. Another impressive appetizer is the Baked Brie. The kicker on that platter has to be the roasted garlic bulb. The soft brie and assorted veggies (most recently it was cool and fresh cantaloupe) play politely with the warm, buttery cloves of garlic.
My preferred Foodie-at-Large loves the Hot Spinach Salad. The spinach, mushrooms and boiled egg have always been fresh, and the warm bacon dressing (served on the side) is bracing and sweetly savory.
On our last visit I ordered the “Ours, Not-Chos.” Yes, you figured it out: It's a big pile of nachos. You never know how these are going to come out of the kitchen. Sometimes they are hot, with creamy cheese flowing over crunchy, colorful chips studded with pickled jalapeno slices and topped with a pint of cold sour cream and bright green guacamole. Other times, like last night, they are tepid, with crusty dessicated cheese burned onto room temperature chips. The guacamole was already turning brown (it oxidizes when it sits too long). Maybe it spent too much time in the window under the warmer? Who knows.
One appetizer not to be missed is the Parrot Poop Dip. This is a wonderfully named puree of black beans, avocado and some well-placed spices through which you dredge crackly blue corn tortilla chips. We also like the Fried Crab Balls. They are made of the same stuff the entree crab cakes are made of (not bad either, with a tasty spice mix). Get some Tabasco to stir into the cocktail sauce.
The uncontested star of the show in the “wraps, clubs, baskets, burgers and subs” department is the French Dip Wrap. Carnivores cannot go wrong with the tender slices of warm prime rib encased in a bright green spinach tortilla with crunchy, spicy fries. (By the way, these tasty fries also start out frozen, but I served the very same ones at my restaurant for years and people always complained when we ran out of the frozen ones and made them fresh. The wonders of modern technology!)
Buttery roasted garlic.1/8 Baked Brie platter with that roasted garlic bulb2/8 Fish & Chips3/8 Those nice crispy seasoned fries.4/8 Nachos. Luck of the draw.5/8 Prime Rib wrap. The star of the show.6/8 Chicken quesadilla7/8 Spinach Salad w/bacon8/8
Burger lovers almost always include the Parrot's Infamous Mumbo Jumbo Burger on their list of beefy delights. It weighs a pound and is cooked to order. (They warn you not to order it if you are in a hurry.) But it's worth the wait. Get extra pickles, mustard, and a slice of tomato (only if tomatoes are in season). Another good bet is the Maryland Lobster Wrap, actually a langostinos/crab salad in an Old Bay-laced tortilla. Not unlike The Foodie himself, the thing is fully packed and quite good.
Last night, accompanying diners ordered the Cheese Quesadillas, joined by cool pico de gallo and actual fresh guacamole. They also got the Hand Dipp'd Beer-Battered Fish & Chips. White, flaky frozen halibut fillets are fried to a particularly tasty crunch, with those spicey fries doing perfectly fine duty as chips. Both dishes are good — not great — but again, this is bar food, and we never promised you a rose garden.
The menu is huge, and I suspect you probably have your own favorites and not-so-favorites. Why not share them with us below? The Purple Parrot has been in Rehoboth Beach for ages, and they must be doing something right. It has always amazed me that in the dead of winter when everything else is deserted, the Parrot is hoppin'. And in the summer … well, the only thing missing is Jimmy Buffet and his blown-out flip-flop. Friday and Saturday they have karaoke, and Sundays feature the timeless antics of Tara Austin's Bird Cage Bad Girls. This is Rehoboth Beach, after all.
If you're looking for fine, candlelit dining. this is not your place. If you're looking for a fun, noisy, crowded beach bar with good drink specials (plus a huge selection of reasonably interesting food), right smack in the second block from the ocean, then this is where you want to be. Check out the Purple Parrot's menu here. Give 'em a call if you need to know something like the entertainment schedule (302-226-1139). They are open 11 am 'til 1 am weekdays, and weekends from 9 am 'til 1 am. (B., L., D., Bar) Price range: moderate.