Sunday, June 7, 2015

Portland Mercado

This place!!! This place makes me so happy. It opened back in April, and according to their website, "The Portland Mercado is an economic development project based on Latino cultural heritage and brings together diverse cultures through entertainment, art, and food." Basically, they are helping people in the Latino community open up businesses, and bringing delicious food and an economic uplift to SE Foster.

If there were ever a Disney Land built just for me, this would be it. Screw Mickey Mouse, this place has 8 different Latin food carts! They've got Cuban, Argentinian, Colombian, Salvadorian, and a variety of regional Mexican vittles. You can taste all the arepas, tamales, tacos, pupusas, empanadas, huaraches, etc... that you could ever want. Inside there's a market with fresh produce, a bar, and a carniceria (which had some tasty looking marinated asada).

With so many choices, it can be difficult to choose what to get. I recommend trying a couple of different places, and going with a group and just sharing everything! This time I got some pupusas from 5 volcanes. I know, not a burrito, but come on people!

I was so excited, that I forgot to snap a picture before taking a bite. Sorry! I got one Pollo and one Frijole Pupusa for $6. They came out steaming hot, with a side of curtido (spicy cabbage slaw). I've had pupusas in the past that were really soggy, greasy, and inadequately filled. These were the opposite of that- gently crisped, very little grease, and abundantly stuffed with the main ingredient and melty oozy cheese. The cabbage slaw was perfect, adding a dynamic texture and piquant punch. SO GOOD! I want another one right... now!

The Mercado not only offers tasty grub, but the people watching is top notch. It's a pretty diverse crowd, with native Fosterians mixing freely with Inner SE Imports. Cute families run around, old ladies lug carts, and girls with blue hair chat on phones. Who knows what you'll see? We need more places like this. Support them!

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tacos Chavez Express 2

**WARNING** You may need to repent after reading this one.

Looking to get your jollies on Foster and 52nd avenue? Just across from Devil's Point, and sharing a wall with a shadier than shady lap dance/ jerk off joint, sits this tiny taqueria. I felt a bit dirty sitting here waiting on my enormous burrito, imagining all the nasty men chowing down on their greasy Mexican meat before heading next door or across the street for other festivities. Then, I thought of the women coming here for a quick bite between business ventures, and I felt dirtier still. But you know, to each his own... everyone needs sustenance. Besides, this is what makes Foster so edgy and cool, right? Anyway, this business was very clean and the guy was nice, so don't let location put you off.

Now that I think of it, there seems to be a correlation between strip clubs and cheap Mexican food. They always seem to be in such close proximity... Oh my God, are burritos just the smut of the food world? No! This can't be! They have more class than that, don't they? I know they're cheap and filling, but that doesn't mean they should bring on a cheap feeling.

The California Burrito

Price: $7

Ingredients: Fries, Steak, Pico, Sour Cream, grilled onion

Sides: Red, Green, Habanero Salsa

Size: 10 inches of beastliness.

Yep, you read it right, there were french fries in this burrito. I guess this is a California thing? I've seen these burritos on menus around town, but this is my first time trying one. I've enjoyed potatoes in burritos many a time, just not in fry form. Other burritos on their menu were only 5 bucks, but I felt like being extra fat today.

I did so enjoy this combination of ingredients- the way the fries and steak sort of... melded together to clog my arteries faster. The fries could have been crispier- they were pretty soggy. This wasn't so bad though, because the squishiness allowed them to soak up more steak grease, creating these perfect little sponges of heaven. The steak itself was nicely cooked, though a couple bites had some chewy fat. The menu says it has cheese and guacamole, but I didn't taste or see any. You know what would have made this guy over-the-top disgustingly good? Nacho cheese.

The experience was like watching a movie that's so bad it's good. You feel kind of embarrassed to enjoy it so much, and like your brain is melting because of it, yet you just can't stop watching. Yeah.

The Rating

3 out of 5 stars

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

La Catrina

Twas an overly hot Thursday in the Ides of March. The midday sun beat down through my streaky windshield, glaring into my angry eyes. Determined, I made my way through the outer reaches of Southeast Portland, and on into Clackamas County. Onward I went, weaving down potholed streets past mossy roofed ramshackle houses, rusting vehicles parked on lawns, and crusty shirtless pot bellied old men smoking cheap stogies on porches. Beads of sweat balled up on my forehead as I approached my destination- The DEQ. Tension filled my every crevice as I pulled nervously into lane 4. My nearly 20 year old Taurus has seen better days, and perhaps this would be its day to die. Luckily though, the old beater passed its emissions test with flying colors. Even though the stoically silent beast of a woman who stamped my certificate didn't seem to share my enthusiasm, I decided to reward myself for being such a good little citizen. The best way to do this? Well, you know...

Taqueria La Catrina is a food truck located at 9603 SE 82nd Ave, South of Johnson Creek, North of Otty Rd. It's pushed back from the street between a McDonalds and a cigarette store, across from the Best Buy/Babies R Us. So yeah, basically it's in the center of Hell. You'd never know it was there if you didn't have spies scoping out places for you (thanks Ben).

The Carnitas

Price: $6

Ingredients: Pork, onion, cilantro, beans, rice, cheese

Sides: Red and Green salsa

Size: Big Old Momma

Hot and hungry, frazzled and fatigued, lugging my ponderous plastic bag of burrito across the dusty lot to my car, I felt a bit like Sisyphus. This day, the heat, the incessant cars motoring down 82nd, the chore of ordinary life, weighing down on me like a perpetual game of boulder tag.

But, I hopped in my car and high tailed it home, to my haven. Just me with a giant meat filled tube of love as my copilot.

Slowly, the wrapper unfurled and out rolled a plump beefy bulldog of a burrito- wrinkly and solid. Upon first bite, a mouthful of soft juicy pig meat filled my food hole. It was tender and flaky, yet the texture could have been more dynamic- it lacked that crisp braised edge I love so dearly in my Carnitas. The dispersion of ingredients was nice (plenty of meat), but there was too much onion. The astringency overwhelmed the porky saltiness my cheeks so yearned for. Cheese and beans were tasty. It was dense and heavy, and as my belly filled, the heaviness of existence floated away and my meltdown was staved off for another day.

The Rating

3.7 outta 5.

Would I go here again? 

Sure, the next time around.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Taqueria El Cazador

Located at lovely SE 102nd and Foster, across from an electrical substation and next to a junk yard, this humble little taqueria is a breath of burritowy fresh air. I find myself wandering further and further to find new burritos these days. Life is just so hard for an old washed up burrito junkie.


Price: $4.99

Ingredients: Pork, rice, beans, onion, cilantro, cheese

Sides: Red and Green Salsa

Size: Medium

Honestly, it's been a while since I actually ate this burrito, and it wasn't incredibly memorable. I'm sorry. Is this the worst post so far? Probably. The pictures are crappy unedited cell phone shots and I can't think of any taste bud teasing adjectives. Don't give up on the me though, people! I'll try harder next time. I just need to find a really good burrito that I haven't tried yet! What's your favorite burrito, guys? Maybe I'm just kind of lonely and talking to myself and hoping internet people will comment about their favorite burritos instead of being mean... I need some inspiration!

The Rating:

3 stars out of 5. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

El Local

Howdy friends! Sorry it's been a while since I've posted. You see, I was in Mexico (aka my heaven), and then there was all that holiday crap going on, but now I'm back and ready to get on with it! Today I was quite hungrily driving around in search of new uncharted burrito territory, when I remembered The Central Eastside Food Cart Pod located on MLK, just south of Stark. I've seen it many times, but never stopped. Thankfully, this little truck was nestled right in the back, and open for burrito business.

Guacamole Carnitas Burrito

 Price: $7.00

Ingredients: Carnitas (pork), guacamole, cheese, rice, beans

Sides: Green mild and greenish yellow hot salsa


One massive MASSIVE beast, this sucker was about as big as my head! 4 bites across with each
pass, its girth was approaching that of a regulation football. When you factor that in, the $7 price tag doesn't seem too steep after all.

I've been fooled by big burritos before, so size really doesn't matter much to me anymore. It's not about the size, it's about the flavor, baby! And that, my friends, is where this puppy fell flat. The ingredients were all fresh, nicely layered, nothing wrong with them... they just lacked that punch in the gut! The pork was supple, but my tasters longed for more peppery pig gusto. The guacamole was a nice bonus, but there was too much rice. Another burrito that wasn't bad, but just wasn't murderously good either. If you're looking to feed a small family, or gain 5 pounds in one sitting, this is the place for you though!

The Rating

3 out of 5. 

Would I go here again?

Perhaps I would try the spicy shrimp burrito.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014


Click image to view larger

This cart is located in a food cart strip on SW 4th at SW College St. There are plenty of Mexican food options on the PSU Campus. Within a 6 block radius I saw 5: Loco Locos, Taco Del Mar, Tito's Burritos, and 2 carts (there's a Chipotle close by too, I'm sure). What kind of college student wouldn't want a heavenly hangover cure that can be turned into 2 meals for 5 dollars? I choose Chopollos because it was open on a Saturday and it was new to me.

The Chopollo Burrito

I had to try their signature burrito!
Price: $5.00

Ingredients: Chile Relleno, Steak, Rice, Refried Beans, Pico, Cheese

Sides: Red and Green Salsa

Size: Large and in Charge

This puppy was bundled up nicely and had a perfectly grilled outer tortilla crust, giving it a nice hot crispy exterior and inner chewiness.

Each bite was steaming hot, perfect for eating outdoors on a crisp fall afternoon. The inner ingredients were superbly layered, allowing for an equal amount of each to be enjoyed throughout. Copious quantities of cheese oozed from the relleno, and with each bite the strings of wonder stretched from my lips, holding tight until they could reach no further and SNAP! They dangled freely, only to be sucked into my mouth like sloppy ramen noodles. Nothing is much more satisfying than slurping up cheese strings. The relleno was of a more eggy variety than I usually enjoy, but it worked on this guy. There wasn't a ton of steak, which was fine with all the relleno and cheese to be savored, and the refried beans added a comforting toasty yumminess. The menu said it had guacamole, but i didn't taste any. Cheese, cheese, and more cheeeeeeeese!

The Rating: 

4 out of 5 

Would I go here again? Yes.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Los Alambres

An oasis in a desert of sketchy car dealerships, Los Alambres is set in the epicenter of Portland's undeniable stretch of societal detritus. We silly inner Portland dwellers pretend 82nd Avenue doesn't exist, unless of course we need to purchase some cheap _____ (fill in the blank with anything). This cart is a few blocks south of Stark, at 1134 SE 82nd, in the parking lot of a Panaderia. Stop by after you shop at Target, or if you're dodging an angry pimp or something...

A wide variety of Mexican fare is offered here, far beyond the typical taco and burrito grub you find at most places. The 17 Torta choices tempt (head cheese, anyone?), and they appear to be the specialty here. I, of course, had to go with a burrito.

Carnitas Burrito

Price: $5.50

Ingredients: Pork, Rice, Beans, Avocado, Sour Cream, Lettuce, Tomato, Cheese

Sides: Red and Green

Size: Big, but not HUGE

Firstly, it took forever for this burrito to come out. I was hungry, drenched from hiking in a downpour, and wanted to be off of stinky 82nd ASAP, and this took... forever! They were out of chicken, which is what my boyfriend had ordered, so I guess they just decided to serve everyone else who came after us first, before asking what we'd like instead. Lame, but hopefully just a one off thing.

Setting aside my angry yelp reviewer style bitchiness, let's get on with the burrito review!

The ingredients all laid nicely within the squishy chewy tortilla, with just the right helping of each- just a little lettuce, a fair amount of cheese, a good hunk of pork. However, nothing blew me away- everything was simply standard. The carnitas lacked that braised crisp edge and inner melty juiciness I love, though it was tender and pulled apart nicely. This undistinguished burrito begged for lots of the smokey red and creamy green salsas to keep it appealing. 

The Rating

3.3 stars. Another average hombre. 

Would I go here again? If I'm ever unfortunate enough to end up in this part of town, perhaps I'd try another option.

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