It seems every food category is represented in Portland, and Mexican food is no exception. Sure, there are many wannabes, but let’s be optimistic eaters and look at what the Portland Mexican food scene is doing right these days. And the award goes to….
Best place to have a healthy meal
¿Por qué no? Taqueria
This order-at-the-counter spot on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard is always buzzing with a cool crowd of mixed ages. The popularity of this restaurant is justified when looking at the menu: There are lots of options, and if you don’t purchase one of the alcoholic drinks, they are extremely economical. Those who are hoping for something a little healthier than your average Mexican fare might reach for the Bryan’s Bowl. This filling meal comes with beans, rice and an array of vibrant veggies. To top it off is flavorful crema, queso fresco, creamy guacamole and lime wedges. Served on the side is your choice of three tortillas or crispy tortilla chips. Coming in at a mere $6.50, it’s just what the doctor ordered.
4635 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
4 out of 5 stars
Best place to fall into a food coma (and like it)
Taqueria Los Gorditos
While this part vegan/vegetarian friendly place may have many light (and sometimes lackluster) dishes, one menu item should not go unnoticed. The torta (which is especially fantastic with juicy carnitas) is a massive and satisfying meal for just $5. Between two pieces of airy, toasted bread is a mixture of beans, cheese, crisp lettuce, tomato, soft chunks of avocado, jalapeños, onion and cilantro. Those with small appetites may choose to save some for later, but those with brave eating habits should certainly take on the challenge. The combination of spicy, juicy and crunchy make this Mexican sandwich the ultimate lullaby before naptime.
5000 SE Division St.
3 out of 5 stars
Best burrito in town
Cha! Cha! Cha!
Now this restaurant may be a chain, but there are many aspects of Cha! Cha! Cha! that are reminiscent of the multitude of hole-in-the-wall taquerias in California. One, they always have various horchatas and aqua frescas (fruit water) brewing, great music and burritos that always satisfy. With dozens of choices from the Oregon Harvest burrito with tempeh and goat cheese in a whole-wheat tortilla to the Classico with tender steak and chile relleno, every burrito eater can find their personal burrito. The flour tortillas are soft and flavorful, and the Chile Relleno is a dream for vegetarians and carnivores alike. The wait staff is kind and genuine, and there is outdoor seating for the spring season that’s just around the corner.
3433 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
5 out of 5 stars
A very, very close second to Cha! Cha! Cha!’s burrito is the burrito at La Sirenita on Alberta street. This tiny spot has been in the neighborhood through thick and thin, and through the years has still offered fabulous Mexican food. La Sirenita offers more traditional meats such as tinga (spicy chicken) and lengua (beef tongue). The prices are fantastic, with no burrito over $5. Their vegetarian items are limited but nonetheless, La Sirenita offers a solid, cheap and tasty burrito.
2817 NE Alberta St.
5 out of 5 stars