Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Portlanders aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Born and raised in Sonoma, California NW Elixirs' chef/owner Andrew Garrett grew up loving good food. "I started cooking as soon as I could stand on stool big enough to reach the stove top and stir whatever my mom needed help with," says Andrew. "We lived on a 12-acre fruit farm and always had a huge garden full of hot peppers and heirloom tomatoes; I have always loved spicy foods."
Throughout high school, Garrett washed dishes and prepped Italian food for a local pizzeria that was owned by a family friend. Instead of attending culinary school, he joined the Army. When Garrett got back to California, he worked at many restaurants with a lot of different chefs including Yoshinori Kojima, Jason Hoffman, and Justin Close. "These chefs taught me so much about food and being a good leader, each one helped to refine my ability to cook as well as design menus." They also taught him how to scope out good, basic food in out of the way places like Oregon City's Super Torta.
My favorite out of the way place to eat? Hands down Super Torta in Oregon City. A good friend of mine told me there was good Mexican food in Portland as I was bitching about wanting a real good lengua or al pastor taco plate, he told me to go check this place out and as a result I found exactly what I wanted; al pastor and a great lengua taco. These guys do it right, from simple to complex. Their "fresh daily" approach shows in everything they make! The Pastor is fucking ridiculously good, when I talk about balance of spice and heat this taco represents that to the T, whatever the spice blend is and the time they put into preparing it. It's right; so damn good.
And the lengua? Well it is such an easy dish to fuck up that I am weary of anyone who says they know how to do it right, however these guys do it right. It's one of those things that most people stay away from because its tongue but I love it, the spice blend that these guys use is perfect and the texture and flavor remind me of my days in San Diego and nights in Cabo San Lucas. I always recommend to anyone that asks about where to get good tacos they make the trip here. Plus it's a small business and the owners are usually on site, it's always refreshing to see the owners as they are extremely nice guys. The service is quick and with a please and thank you. The cooks are always happy and I strongly believe happy cooks make happy food. Seriously good Mexican food exists in Portland, you just have to look for it a little outside the city limits.
Photo of Super Torta courtesy Official site