Best Mexican in Portland [and Crescent City, CA]
I'm looking for the best Mexican restaurant in Portland (will be there 2 nights) and Crescent City, CA (final destination down the Oregon coast)
There are a few places around where we live that all have the same menu. We've been to Mexican restaurants in other cities that also have this same [basic] menu. These places are usually good [some better than others due to minor subtleties/atmosphere/etc.], but nothing great. Usually it seems you find these places in suburban strip malls. Americanized Mexican I guess. In fact there is one in a strip mall very close to our house that we patronize very often. We enjoy the food and the atmosphere, but if someone were to ask for the best Mexican restaurant in the area, I definitely wouldn't send them there. So that's not what I'm looking for.
Then there are the places that are in another league. Not necessarily by price per say, but by quality and creativity of the menu. They may still have your standard tacos, burritos, and enchiladas on the menu, but they are not like every other place in town. Something sets them off different the rest. If you know of a place that fits the description of the latter, please let me know.
I know Crescent City. There's good Mexican in a couple of places. Cristina's on 3rd St is great and cheap. Perlita's on 101 S. is also good. Both have great, fresh fish tacos. Almost as good are Los Compadres on 101 s. across from the harbor and La Fiesta on H St. It's pretty standard faire, but the quality is above average at my first two picks...
My favorite place in Brookings, Oregon is Rancho Viejo on 101 next to Fred Meyer. It's hit or miss though. The camarones al mojo de ajo are a great meal on the appetizer menu. My husband and I split this and walk away plenty full for 10 bucks total.
I wonder if Perlita is the one where I had good menudo several years ago. I don't recall the name, but it was something of a hole-in-the-wall place on the highway leading out of town, among the motels and mechanics shops. My notes say it was close to the Elk Valley Rd junction.
What part of Portland are you interested in? There some decent options close in, including some more upscale places (Autentica, Nuestra Cocina). For Mexican places frequented by Mexicans, though, you'd probably do best to go to Hillsboro, which is probably a 30 minutes drive from downtown.
If you look at http://www.extramsg.com, he's done some extensive reviews of Portland-area Mexican restaurants. The ones that I find most useful are:
Northeast Portland: http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?n...
Midscale and regional: http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?n...
wow, the extramsg.com feature is awesome. thanks!
I'll be staying around the Loyd Center, but will have a car, so traveling isn't a huge deal. I'll probably check out some of the local taquerias for lunch, but for dinner I'm looking for a place that's not a taqueria, nor an upscale place like DF. Something in between I guess. And somewhere to get a good margarita. With a nice atmosphere. Oh, and not Tex-Mex either.
Check out Tacqueria Nueve or D.F. Choose the one closest to you. Both are excellent. Neither are anything close to strip mall places.
Then there are the taco trucks. My fave is at Killingsworth and Denver. Homemade tortillas. Suculent tacos. Enjoy!
Autentica is my top recommendation for you. About 10 minutes drive from the Lloyd Center area. (503.287.7555, 5507 NE 30th at Killingsworth)
Great authentic food; friendly chef/owner. (Sit at the kitchen bar and watch the action.)
Nuestra Cucina is also great but a bit farther and a little more expensive.
If you really love Mexican food and want to try something that's regrettably rarely found at taquerias, you should make the trip out to Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon on the edge of Gresham (162nd and Glisan). They're really only open for breakfast and lunch. Their specialty is Mexican stews -- guisados. They sell them as part of a platter or by the pound. One of those reports Nettie linked to up there probably has their (now closed) Vancouver location, but the original location was always the best. It helps if you speak Spanish, but there are enough around that speak English, and you can always just point to the stew you want. You can ask for a taste, too. Their beans are divine, black or pinto. Very good tamales. Very good carnitas. And warm tortillas.