Parallel 17 Reinvented at P17

The Red Coral cocktail

The Red Coral cocktail at P17

Over eight years ago, Parallel 17 opened in Uptown as a Vietnamese restaurant. Over the course of time, the restaurant morphed from iteration to iteration: french-inspired bistro, french-Vietnamese fusion, fine dining… With each different version, the restaurant moved further away from the original concept. As of May 1 of this year, they have returned to their roots.

They have renamed the joint simply P17 (1600 E 17th). The owners wanted to bring back the family friendly, causal, and unpretentious atmosphere, while still retaining foodie cred. To that end, P17 has introduced a seasonal menu, which will rotate every 3 or 4 months to ensure freshness. A lot of the (let’s face it) tacky stuff hanging from the ceilings has been removed, resulting in a cleaner, lighter over all feeling. Perhaps the largest change from the previous iteration is that nothing on the menu is over $20. While I will shed a tear for the now-removed Chicken Hot Pot, the new menu looks fantastic. What has remained is the excellent patio, top-notch food, and lovely cocktails.

Speaking of cocktails! Holy balls, they did a nice job. During the  preview I attended, the bartenders were struggling to keep up and getting a drink took a while. But that drink was entirely worth the wait! I had the above pictured Red Coral, which was a house-made strawberry and agave syrup with vodka. What really made the cocktail stand out was the garnish. It may look like salt in the photo, but its actually a sugar and Kaffir lime leaf mixture. House made too, of course. It helped elevate what would have otherwise been an slightly bland fruit-and-vodka drink to an interesting and summery cocktail that is different from most others that I’ve had. And I’ve definitely had my share.


The City Park at P17.

During my recent visit, I also got to try a drink appropriately named the City Park. It consisted of top-shelf citrus vodka with cucumber water, lemongrass and a fresh lemon peel garnish. It was a really nice take on simple, classic summer cocktails. The citrus vodka and the garnish reflected each other nicely without becoming unbalanced overall. The cucumber water was probably my favorite part of the drink, since it’s very clean and refreshing. Plus, I can now convince myself that I’m hydrating while I booze it up. Win! I can easily envision myself sipping these on P17’s lovely wrap-around patio all summer.

Basically, if you haven’t been to P17 recently, you should probably fix that. These folks know what their doing.



Note: The original version of this article stated that Parallel 17 opened as a Euro-style bistro in error. The article has been edited to correct this. 

About Nikki Minette

An uppity minx who loves beer, bourbon, politics, kitties, naps, and Firefly. Tap room bartender at River North Brewery. Follow her on twitter @whiskeynikki.