Posts Tagged ‘Mexican’

My husband and I both enjoy Mexican food, and while I’ve enjoyed many of the places that we’ve visited in the past few years, I’m always on the lookout for another place to eat delicious Mexican cuisine.  So, when Living Social offers a voucher for a Mexican Restaurant that I’ve not yet tried, I am eager to buy the voucher!  Let’s eat!

When we arrived at Cha Taqueria, it was too dark to take photos (we dined outside) … I hope that Cha Taqueria doesn’t mind that I borrowed their photo from their online gallery. Please click on the pic to go there!

Location:  305 NW 21st Avenue, Portland, Oregon

Order:  I ordered the Carne Asada Tacos plate ($14) while my husband chose the Chicken Las Rancheras platter ($15).

What I Think:

OK, first of all, I have to say this … the parking for Cha Taqueria STINKS!  There is no parking lot, so the only parking is along the streets, and we drove around for 30 minutes looking for a parking place!  So, if you’re visiting Cha Taqueria, make sure that you arrive in plenty of time to ensure that you can get a parking place and still have time to eat (in other words, don’t do what we did, and start looking for a parking place an hour before the place closes!)  We were nearly too late to order, fortunately, the staff was nice and let us dine so that we would not have to return another evening.  THANK YOU Cha Taqueria for being so considerate of our parking plight!

After shaking off the annoyances of the lugubrious parking situation, we decided not to allow it to taint our dining experience since the staff was so pleasant and kind.  We sat outside – it was a lovely evening! – and placed our order.

Instead of the customary chips and salsa that most Mexican restaurants serve before the meal, we were brought a platter of chips topped with melted cheese and beans.  This was absolutely delicious, and really put us in the right mood for the yummy food that would follow.

Our food arrived surprisingly fast.  The Carne Asada plate was comprised of two soft corn tortilla Carne Asada tacos and black beans.  The steak strips were incredibly tender, it seemed to melt in my mouth!  The flavor of the taco was balanced out with a light squeeze of the lime garnish, this gave it just the right acidic touch to brighten up the flavor of the taco – the meat was succulent and tender, the vegetables were crisp and the salsa provided was SPICY … be sure to use this sparingly!  My husband gave me a bite of his Chicken Enchilada and the chicken was even more tender than the flat iron steak in my Carne Asada Tacos.   Absolutely delicious!

My Final Thoughts:

My husband and I both really enjoyed our meal at Chai Taqueria and I daresay that we’d be happy to visit again … but next time we will be mindful of the parking situation!  The food was absolutely vibrant, tasted so fresh and delicious!

Cha Taqueria on Urbanspoon

I realize that this blog has been on a slight hiatus.  As I mentioned in my previous review, I came down with a really bad cold, and it really affected my taste buds terribly!  I couldn’t taste much at all!  So I needed to wait until I was feeling better before I could start writing.  But, then, I forgot that I still had several notes on restaurants that I had visited recently … and those didn’t require my taste buds to be functioning since I had already eaten the food while they were operating at full capacity.  So… let me get the blog rolling again with my review of Lorena’s Mexican Restaurant … and yep, you guessed it, this is another Living Social find!

Cochinita Pibil

Location:  4160 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR

Order:  We arrived for lunch, and the lunch special for the day was their Cochinita Pibil, and it sounded so delicious, I had to try it!

What I Think:

I have lived in the Pacific Northwest for about 10 years now, and I don’t recall ever having been to the Hollywood District of Portland before this day.  I probably have, but nothing really caught my attention to make the time memorable … and the Hollywood District seems pretty memorable to me.  Maybe I wasn’t paying attention…

Lorena’s Mexican Restaurant is located in the K2 Building on Sandy Boulevard.  The decor of the establishment is very tasteful, and noticeably “low key” for a Mexican restaurant.  Perhaps I’m just so used to seeing the flamboyant colors of typical Mexican restaurant decor, with the sombreros and pinatas and colorful woven blankets.  Lorena’s is much more subdued, choosing instead very tasteful paintings to decorate its walls.

But one thing that wasn’t different about Lorena’s is the customary, complementary chips and salsa that was brought out with our menus.  The chips were crispy and warm, and the salsa was spicy!  But even though it was spicy enough to ignite the taste buds, it was still very flavorful.

Usually when I visit a Mexican Restaurant, I go with chile rellenos.  As I’ve probably mentioned before, this is my usual measure of a “good” Mexican restaurant … how good their chile rellenos are.   That, and if they have any horchata.  Well… they didn’t have horchata, which was disappointing, and while I was very tempted to try the chile rellenos, I instead opted for the special of the day, which was the Cochinita Pibil.

And I’m GLAD I chose this dish!  Oh my goodness!  This is so delicious!  The pork is so tender it seems to melt in the mouth, and there was a very pleasing level of spice to the dish.  It wasn’t set-the-mouth-on-fire spicy, but it was warm enough to remind me that I was eating Mexican food, and not some watered down, wimpy version of it.  I piled some of this stewed pork into the warm corn tortillas that came with the dish, and enjoyed this “taco” style.

Chicken Enchiladas

To spice it up further, there was a side of pickled onions and peppers, but I only added these to one of my three self-made “tacos” because it was a bit too hot for my liking.  I could handle it, but, I wanted to taste the pork, and the heat of the onions and peppers muted some of the flavorful spices that had been cooked into the pork.  While this was incredibly delicious, I think it could have used a touch of acid.  A thin slice of lime was offered on the plate as a garnish, but this was barely enough for one of the tacos, I think it would have been better if the dish was garnished with a wedge or two of lime, as the addition of the acid to the “taco” made it taste so delicious and well-balanced.  Perfection!

My husband ordered the chicken enchilada  and he offered me a bite.  It was very flavorful, tender, and mildly spiced.  My husband enjoyed it so much that he even told the host that we’d be returning soon!  He doesn’t do that very often!

My Final Thoughts:

Delicious food that is well prepared, so good that my husband wants to return?  Nuff said!

Lorena's Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I wasn’t too excited about visiting this place on the day that we did.  That day was actually reserved for Eat. Art. Theater. (E.A.T) but as it turned out, when we arrived at the address for E.A.T. the restaurant had been closed and the establishment had changed ownership.  I was sad, because E.A.T. really sounded like a place I would have enjoyed.  So, as we were headed back to Vancouver, I remembered that I had a voucher for El Valle and we decided to visit.  And even though this wasn’t the place we had planned on visiting that day, as it turned out, we found a great place for Mexican fare.

Location:  6700 NE 162nd Avenue, Suite #713, Vancouver, Washington

Order:  We ordered a plate of Nachos for an appetizer and I ordered the Combination Plate with a Chicken Enchilada and a Chili Relleno.   To drink, I ordered a HORCHATA!

What I Think:

Well, as I mentioned in the introduction, there was still some lingering disappointment when we first arrived at El Valle… not in El Valle itself, but in the fact that we didn’t get to visit E.A.T.  But my disappointment disappeared rapidly when we ordered.  I noticed there was horchata on the menu (and this tends to be one of THE deciding factors for me on whether or not I’ll revisit a place … whether or not they have horchata!)

But when it came time to order, our server informed me that they were “out” of horchata.  I was visibly disappointed, and my husband remarked “this happens every time we visit a Mexican restaurant.  She sees horchata on the menu, and they don’t end up having it.”  At that, the server said, “I can make more.”  And they did!  And it was delicious!  Yay!

The salsa served at the start (with still-warm, freshly made chips) tasted very fresh.  A lot of tomato in it, with very little cilantro and onion in comparison to the amount of tomatoes … but I like tomatoes, and it had a nice level of spice to it.  I was becoming more and more encouraged with each bite that I was in for some good Mexican food!

The nachos were also quite tasty.  They were smothered in refried beans and loaded with cheese.  Not a cheese sauce… but shredded cheese that was all melted and gooey.  They also had a dollop of sour cream and guacamole on top, and I love guacamole, so I ate the side with the guacamole, while my husband prefers sour cream … so guess which side he ate from?  This is really how I love nachos.  Sure, there could have been other toppings … maybe some fresh tomatoes or something, but, I liked these just the way they were.  Delicious and very filling!

So filling, in fact, that I found it difficult to finish my combination plate.  I did manage to eat a good portion of it, though!  The relleno was delicious.  Chili rellenos are another “deciding” factor for me when it comes to Mexican restaurants.  If their chili rellenos do not impress me, I won’t be back.  They are like a Mexican staple for me, and my stepmother could even make a decent chili relleno, so if a Mexican restaurant cannot make a good one, I won’t return.

But this one was good.  It was stuffed full of cheese, and it had a moderate amount of mild heat from the chili and the batter was light and cooked through (yes, I’ve had chili rellenos that had uncooked egg-y stuff between the cooked outside and the chili … and it was revolting.  Which is why, as I said above, if I go to a place with bad chili rellenos, I won’t be returning).

The chicken enchilada was also quite good.  The chicken was flavorful and very tender.  It seemed to melt in the mouth.  The side of Spanish seasoned rice was tasty, as was the side of cheese topped refried beans.  I didn’t eat too much of either of the rice or the beans, because I had really filled up from the nachos appetizer.

My Final Thoughts:

I will definitely be happy to revisit El Valle.  The flavors that I wanted were there.  I left full and satisfied.  And the fact that they had horchata and even made a fresh batch of it for me really REALLY impressed me.  So, yes, this has elevated El Valle to my favorite Mexican restaurant in this area.  Other Mexican restaurants, take note:  I want HORCHATA!  But as for El Valle:  We will be back.

EL Valle on Urbanspoon

I’m a little behind on writing restaurant reviews, so I guess now is as good a time as any to start trying to catch up.  We (my husband and I) visited La Costita one afternoon a while ago, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  In fact, I think it’s been one of my husband’s favorite restaurant stops in a while! 

Order:  For an appetizer, we chose a plate of Chicken Taquitos ($6.99).  Even though we visited at lunchtime, I ordered off the dinner menu.  I chose the Chimichanga Jorocha ($14.59)

Location:  14626 SE Sunnyside Road in Clackamas, OR

What I Think:

My husband and I both enjoy Mexican food, so when the Living Social deal of the day offers savings for a local Mexican restaurant, I usually jump at that offer.  I mean, it’s a no-brainer, I know my husband and I will both love the food.  And it was one of those Living Social deals that lead us to visit La Costita in Clackamas, Oregon.

The decor is what I like to refer to as “Mexi-Casa” … which I actually probably shouldn’t call it because there actually is a restaurant that I used to frequent in California called Mexi-Casa, and I don’t want to infringe upon anyone.  So let me just say that it had a very standard yet festive Mexican type decor:  Brightly colored tiles, Hispanic artwork … you know what I’m talking about, right?

Right off the bat, I need to mention that although it does appear on the menu, there is no horchata!  Now, I am sure that this is no big deal to many of you out there, but it is to me, because no Mexican meal is totally complete without horchata, in my opinion.

My husband's Enchilada Combination Plate ($7.59)

The service at La Costita is really second to none.  I was astonished at how quickly we were taken to our seats, and how quickly we were brought water and warm chips and salsa.  Both were very fresh, and the salsa was spicy.  I loved that I could feel the snap of the fresh veggies in the salsa!  It tasted like it had just been made only moments before being brought to the table.

Our appetizer was brought out to our table, sizzling hot, within minutes of placing our order.  These chicken taquitos were so tasty.  They were made with flour tortillas which gave them a crisp, light texture on the outside, with tender, lightly spiced, juicy chicken inside.  Their Guacamole was not too heavy, and tasted more of avocado than of other ingredients.  YUM!

Before we had even finished our taquitos (there were three whole taquitos which were cut in half to make six half taquitos), our server had returned with our piping hot entries.  I could still hear my chimichanga sizzle as it was placed in front of me.  The chimichanga was filled with tiny, tender shrimp.  The crab meat was moist, although the tiny shreds gave it an almost canned quality.  My entree was delicious and I enjoyed it however, I did find myself wishing about halfway through that I had ordered something else.  The crab was a little disappointing.  It didn’t taste as fresh as it should have. It didn’t taste bad; but it just didn’t taste as good as I had anticipated.

However, the rest of the experience was top-notch, so I don’t feel the least bit of hesitation to recommend this restaurant to everyone reading this post.  It’s a great place to eat:  great service and good food!

My Final Thoughts:

While I wasn’t over-the-top thrilled with the crab meat in my chimichanga, and I was rather dismayed over the fact that there was no horchata, the rest of the food was more than satisfactory.  I didn’t leave feeling hungry or dissatisfied.  The service was fast and friendly, the food arrived super fast, and it was hot and tasty!   We will definitely visit La Costita again!

La Costita Mexican on Urbanspoon

Yep… another sports bar.  What was I thinking?  It was another find from LivingSocial, and this time, I managed to find a place that I would actually revisit… because their Bulgogi Beef Tacos are to die for!

sorry for the grainy quality of the photo... the bar was quite dark, and my camera just couldn't capture enough light to get a good photo. But, I still think it's a good representation of these yummy tacos.

Location:  2401 SW 4th Avenue, Portland OR (this bar & grill is actually part of the TraveLodge building, so when you get to the TraveLodge, you just need to park and walk around to the front of the building … and you’ll find Suki’s!)

Order:  For an appetizer, my husband and I shared a plate of Classic Buffalo Wings with Bleu Cheese Dressing ($7).  I ordered the Bulgogi Beef Tacos ($6) … I hope I spelled that right!  My husband ordered the Cheeseburger (and I forgot to note how much that plate was, sorry!)

What I Think:

First of all, I want to comment on the customer service, because when we first arrived, we were a bit surprised that the bartender was actually waiting on the tables as well.  We had our doubts, but, I must say that the customer service that we received was friendly and accommodating.  Yes, this man was very busy, but, he made sure each one of the customers in the place was well cared for.

The atmosphere … well, I have to say that – as a not-so-hot-on-sports kind of person – that I preferred the atmosphere here at Suki’s to the last sports bar we visited.  Maybe that’s because we visited on a Tuesday rather than a Sunday and the place wasn’t jam-packed full of sports fans yelling at televisions.  But, even though I’m not a particular fan of the sports theme, I found the atmosphere at Suki’s comfortable … if not a bit worn.

The Buffalo Wings were really good.  The wings were fried to crispy perfection, and they were coated with a spicy sauce that I found to be quite warm, but very enjoyable.  I like spicy foods, but, I don’t like them so spicy that I can’t taste anything else but spice.  With these wings, they were spicy-hot, but, I could still taste the tender chicken beneath the spicy sauce.

But… the Bulgogi Beef Tacos.  AMAZING.  Let me say that again.  AMAZING!

The Bulgogi Beef is a Korean style barbeque beef.  It was so tender that it seemed to melt in my mouth.  The barbeque sauce was sweet with a very mild spice to it.  The real spice, though, came from this incredible salsa that was served on the side.  It had pineapple in it, so I thought, ‘eh… it’s probably one of those spicy-sweet kind of salsas,” and I took a spoonful to taste it.  WOW!

Yes, it has a bit of sweetness to it from the pineapple, and I like the fresh, fruity flavor that it gave to the salsa.  But … it has a real kick to it too.  To counter the heat of the salsa, the beef topped a bed of cabbage and was topped with thin cucumber slices that had been sprinkled with some sesame seeds.  The tortilla was a corn tortilla that had been freshly grilled, so it had a light toasty taste and texture.  It had some crispness to it from the grilling, but it was still soft.  I liked this much better than the typical deep-fried corn tortilla.

My husband described the burger as pretty average, like a typical burger from a typical sports bar.  But the fries were less than average – and after trying a few of them, I’d have to agree.  They were cold and tasted … almost stale.

My Final Thoughts:

If you go to Suki’s, don’t go for the burger!  But DO go for the Bulgogi Beef Tacos (at this point, I really hope I’ve been spelling Bulgogi right).  These were incredible and certainly made the trip not only memorable for me, but, were enough to make me want to visit again.  Certainly best tacos I’ve had in a very long while!

Suki's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon