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Cheese Bar's Steve Jones Pulls Off Interstate 5 for La Tarasca

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Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Portlanders just aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food luminaries to share their under-the-radar recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.


Image of La Tarasca courtesy Douglas C. via Yelp

Steve Jones, owner and head cheesemonger at Cheese Bar on 61st and SE Belmont, calls himself a "longtime cheese dork" and "life-long eater." When he's not winning national awards, you can sometimes find Mr. Jones hitting the back roads of the Northwest in search of his next cheesy discovery — all the while looking for just the right spot to refuel his engine. Here is one of the Rogue warrior's favorite roadside distractions that's a bit of a jaunt north on Interstate-5, but well worth the drive.

"My pick is a life saver on the brain-numbing trip between Portland and Seattle. It is La Tarasca in Centralia, WA. This place is an oasis: quirky, homey, tasty, and filling. No chips and salsa, just well-made Mexican that takes just long enough to make you forget you still have half the trip to go. I think Tom Kooiman from Provvista [Specialty Foods] turned me on to it originally. I've stopped there with pretty much anyone travelling with me between Portland and Seattle, and everyone is surprised [because it's] actually good food in Centralia. Chicken mole, pork verde or just tacos, I'm always happy to stop in for a bite.

And for "dessert"? "Don't miss [Rich's] Art Yard between the highway and the restaurant," Jones says.
· La Tarasca [Yelp]
· All Previous Dining Confidentials [Eater PDX]

Cheese Bar

2925 Ingersoll Avenue, , IA 50312 (515) 277-7828 Visit Website

La Tarasca

1001 W Main St., Centralia, WA