Get Your Taco Fix in Portlandby PELP Team on 09/30/16
By Afton Nelson
No matter what Portland neighborhood you find yourself in, you’re never far away from great tacos. Take some time to explore the city by visiting one of these amazing taco restaurants. And when you’re done, pick another one on the list and visit that one too. It might just be the best way to see Portland.
You know those little-hole-in-the-wall places that fly under the radar for everyone except those neighborhood locals? When you have to walk through a Mexican grocery store to get to your tacos, you know you’ve found one of these delicious secrets. Taqueria Y Panaderia is in the St. Johns neighborhood and sits in the back of a well-stocked grocery and bakery (“panaderia” means “bakery” in Spanish). The dining area is large enough to accommodate the police and firefighters who seem to stop by every day, as well as the local neighbors. It’s not fancy, but the tacos more than make up for it. Don’t forget to hit the salsa bar and load up. Their specialty taco is lengua, or tongue. Don’t knock it until you try it. It’s tender and delicious.
Another local secret is Panaderia Mexicana Cinco de Mayo located in a tiny grocery store over in the Sellwood neighborhood. It’s a nice little family owned business that specializes in not just tacos, but also pastries (Try the churros!) They offer freshly made tortillas and excellent pastor, and the tacos are $2 each. You’ll be lucky to find a spot in the back of the store, next to the beverage fridge, to sit down, so consider getting your tacos to go.
While Ole Frijole isn’t in the back of a grocery store, its building and location are anything but fancy. That’s okay. You’ll know by the lunchtime line pushing out the door that you’ve put your taco faith in the right place. They offer both crunchy and soft corn tacos and the prices are reasonable. Upgrade to a platter with beans and rice on the side for a hearty, inexpensive meal that will leave you satisfied.
Sometimes you find a restaurant in a trendy part of town. Right away you know you’re going to be paying a little more for your tacos. The décor is hip, the clientele seems a bit more sophisticated, and you wonder if su accento is going to be good enough to order.
Tamale Boy might make you feel a tad intimidated (especially if you walk in with a bunch of kids), but order anyway. And make sure that when you do, you get the table made spicy guacamole. You won’t regret it. There is a lovely patio for outdoor seating and the tacos are worth the slightly-higher price.
If you want to eat tacos and geek out over your favorite Major League Soccer Team, the Portland Timbers, head over to Burnside, just around the corner from Providence Park and order tacos from Uno Mas Taquiza. Their Barbacoa is life changing. Enjoy the Timbers centric décor, watch a soccer game, or even play a few rounds of foosball at their table in the back. Just make sure you sample at least three of their many salsas at their delicious salsa bar. It’s actually just squeeze bottles in an iced basin next to the register, but the delicious flavor combos are not to be missed.
Expect a Line Awesome
Por Que No? on Hawthorne has a line for a reason, and you’ll know once you bite into one of their amazing tacos. This place has everything: squid, shrimp, fish, two flavors of chicken, veggie and chorizo, along with all the other taco standards. Get two tacos and add a side of pintos for a delicious meal. They also offer a selection of seasonal fruit juices, horchata, and Jamaica, a hibiscus flower tea over ice. The décor is Mexican kitsch and it’s fantastic.
KOi Fusion might also have a line, but that’s because it’s a food cart and there is no indoor seating. Don’t let that sway you from trying their Korean-Mexican fusion tacos, bowls or burritos. This is the food cart that drove out on the tarmac of Portland International Airport to meet Air Force One and fill President Obama’s taco needs. Whether you try their bulgogi beef tacos, chicken, pork or tofu, all their food is fresh, local, non-gmo and their beef is grass fed.
Taquiera Nueve boasts a crispy wild boar taco and, man, is it delicious. But the suadero (a pan fried, fatty brisket) is no “also ran.” They open at five and seating fills up quickly so you might find yourself waiting for a table to open. No worries. Just peruse the menu and enjoy the fun atmosphere. Maybe order a glass of their house-made limeade. It is amazing.
Nuestra Cocina is tucked in a little neighborhood on the southeast corner of Ladd’s Addition and is open for dinner only. Their specialty is a stuffed gordita, but the sopa de lima con pollo is also a must-try dish. And the tacos! Don’t forget the tacos. While the small selection only includes a pork and a cactus mushroom taco, they prove the saying, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”
This list is just a taste of the fantastic taco eating opportunities Portland provides. Did we miss your favorite taco place? Let us know so we can try it for ourselves.