Monday, October 19, 2015

Fernando's Alegria

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I returned to my most favorite food cart pod in Portland, my own special Disneyland- The Mercado. It's located on SE Foster and 72nd. As I parked across from this utopic wonderland of delight, the smell of peppers and spice and everything nice permeated into my brain, making me viciously salivate like a monster! I ravaged my way over to the burrito cart, Fernando's Alegria. Alegria means happiness or joy, so let's see if they brought me such feelings of contentment...

Fernando's Special Burrito

Price: $8

Ingredients: Steak, grilled onions, jalapenos, tomato, rice, beans, sour cream, cheese

Sides: Red and green sauce

Size: Monster!

I went on a rant a while ago about 8 dollar burritos. It's tough to rationalize what on earth makes a burrito worth 8 bucks. Some places in town use words like "made from scratch," or "artisanal" to make their burritos sound fancy and worthy of the 8 dollar price tag. Other spots have hip atmospheres with apathetic staff, and for some reason this automatically makes the price higher. Fernando's doesn't do any of these things. They just serve up an honest, hearty, gargantuan burrito. Nearly as wide as it is tall, it took at least 3 bites to make it across one row of this beast. 

The tortilla was kissed with a crispness, which I usually like, but this one cracked and crumbled a lot. The ingredients united playfully on my palate, with the morsels of smoky steak twirling around with the pops of perfectly cooked pinto beans. The grilled onion had an enticing sweet crunch, while the tomatoes added a refreshing splash of acidity. The flavors balanced well, but I would have liked more punch from the jalapenos. I may look like a gringa on the outside, but I can take heat with the best of them. The cheddar cheese was melted against one side of the tortilla, while it should have been more central. Though I usually complain about burritos being too dry, this guy was too juicy. The sour cream liquefied and became muddled with the other ingredients, loosing it's calming creamy coolness. The green salsa tasted like how I would imagine licking the back of an iguana would taste- green, grassy, herbaceous, psychedelic! This dude was dense, and if it did indeed contain rice, I didn't even notice. It could easily be made into 2 meals for the average person. I however, devoured it whole in about 5 seconds with my huge, fat, monstrous mouth.

The Rating:

3.5 out of 5

Would I go here again?

Oh, I'll be back at the Mercado. I have more carts to try!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sanchez Taqueria y Panaderia

Venturing beyond the safe, reassuring walls of Portland, further and further Southwest we went; through an endless desolate land of strip malls and cul-de-sacs, ranch homes and parking lots... Until finally we spotted the bright red and green sign on the left side of 99W, with a happy taco mascot welcoming us to this strange, yet homey establishment.

The atmosphere reminded me of some of the spots I visited in La Paz, Baja California Sur. Tiled floors, bright walls, simple tables and chairs. All that was missing was a large central condiment bar of every imaginable salsa and pickled pepper, crema, etc... (Oh man, do I miss Baja).

Carnitas Burrito

Price: $6.95

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

Sides: Red and Green Salsa

Size: Colossal! 

We sat expectantly as a stream of saucy steamy plates of food flowed past us to other eager patrons. Our hunger growing by the second. Then, our mammoth burrito babies finally arrived. So beautiful.

Have you ever received a gift, so exquisitely wrapped, that you were afraid to open it? The tortilla was so warm and light and fresh, it left a fairy dusting on my fingertips that said it was made that morning. 

Have you ever opened that gift, only to find something mediocre inside? You smiled and said "thank you," even though you were disappointed, didn't you? Well, I wasn't blown away by the inside of this guy. It was ok, but I want more pizzazz! Though the carnitas had a nice texture, the flavor was weak and it lacked juiciness. There was too much rice and not enough beans. It needed some cheese, maybe some crema. Haters gonna hate, but I need cheese!!! The salsas were delicious, but I had to rely on them for the added flavor. I think this was a typical case of an establishment having some tasty items, with the burritos being a safety net for the faint of heart. I wish I would have gotten one of the enormous plates of steamy food, or maybe a variety of tacos instead. I had such high hopes, but this guy fell flat. Gimme the greasy spice, gimme the heat! Gimme some fucking cheese!

Thank you.

The Rating:

2.8 out of 5 stars

I hope I just ordered the wrong thing...

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