Since I’ve received the devastating news that Esparza’s had closed its doors forever, I need to find something to replace that gaping hole in my heart, and belly. Having heard that Podnah’s Pit had a little Tex-Mex brother (or sister) next door, and I was going to dine with my sister, sans child, it seemed like as good a time as any to give it a shot.
First thing to note, is that it is a NO MINORS allowed on the premises. So if you wanted to go get some tacos and take your kid, you better hoof it over to Alberta street, because it isn’t happening here. It also opens at 5, and we got there are 5:15 and it is a good thing we did.
The space is small, but there is reasonable space for people to belly-up to the bar, or the small shelf along the back wall, where you can set a drink. When the weather is nice, there are a couple of outdoor standing bar rows as well. Since we arrived fairly early on a Friday, we took one of the few booths.
The menu has some standards, like a couple enchilada platters, tortilla soup, standard fare. All items that are nice to see, I hate it when places try to get too fancy with their Mex fare. We started with the chips and salsa, which costs $2:
What you can barely see on each side of the chips (as I take terrible phone pics) are the two salsas that come with the chips. The red on the left is slightly spicy and had a well rounded flavor. Kind of like a ranchera salsa. The green on the right is the salsa verde, which is in no way spicy and has a slightly smoky flavor. The chips are super salty, which I like, and they are made in house, so they are thick and crisp and they were gone in a matter of minutes.
Obviously, I ordered a beer, the list isn’t great. I got Caldera IPA in a can for $4, but my sister explored one of their more inventive cocktails. They actually have a somewhat extensive list of cocktails, but I prefer beer with my Mex. I’m not mad at this though.
Tacos are $2.50 and are street sized tacos. Meaning, they are small. The shrimp taco is a buck more, I think, but I didn’t get one. I’ve learned a valuable lesson about tasting the rainbow of meats, so I stuck with pork for this adventure. I got one pork carnitas taco, and my sister got the avocado taco:
As you can see, they are not huge. But they pack a good flavor. Since I have two more items to come after this, I am in no way the least bit worried that I will be hungry. Besides, the service was efficient and attentive and friendly. I like these guys.
The next item to come was the tamale. I chose the pork verde and it weighs in at $3. The thing is with prices such as these, I feel like I ought to order several items, but that isn’t the case. Except with the tacos; they are small. Not unusually small, but you’d most def need a few of them. Back to the tamale. It comes alone on the plate, but covered in verde sauce and it is a real treat. The meat is tender and no sketchy bits in it at all. But it isn’t quite as good as the one you can get at the tamale booth at the Hollywood farmers market:
Hey, does that look like the verde that came with my chips? It most certainly does, but I’m not mad at this at all. Like I said, it is a winner. At this point, I am fairly satisfied and am concerned that I still have an item coming. With good reason. I ordered the pork sopes. In my mind, I’m thinking about the small ones I had on my last trip to Mexico. What comes is the same thing in theory: it’s the closest thing I’ve found back in the States, but it is huge.
Uh oh. I’m in trouble when they lay this thing down in front of me. After all, this isn’t an eating contest. The sopes is like a corn tortilla kind of cake, hard to describe except to say it is similar to a tostada, but the corn maize is fried and thick so its kind of soft. Not for picking up and eating. Also, they are traditionally about the size of a fist, but as you can see, this is the fist of a giant. For $4, my sopes comes traditionally: layered with beans, the pork, lettuce, cheese and a creme drizzle on top. Also, bathed in the salsa verde. It is a delight. Again, all of the flavors come together nicely and the meat is tender and well cooked. I can’t finish it. How sad.
Next time, I will focus on the beef dishes. Things to note: the pork is suspiciously of the same as Podnah’s next door, probably is the same pork, but that is totally ok by me. I’m curious to see how the smoked brisket enchiladas are, but I have a friend who’d be mighty angry if I left her out of this…..
Hey! You can see my 1 minute video of La Taq if you look for me: Jadeddinerpdx on Tastemade!