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Russell's 'B-' for La Taq; Savoring the Sugar Cube

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Photo courtesy Avila/EPDX

The Oregonian's Michael Russell seems mixed on Rodney Muirhead's Mex-Tex bar La Taq, describing the fare as "tasty Tex-Mex" but ultimately bestowing a "B-" grade. Russell deems the barbecue-meets-queso concept "elemental and, often, delicious," specifically calling out the "very good" queso fundido, brisket and smoky chorizo tacos, and the "must-order" chicken-tortilla soup, which arrives in a "rich red broth akin to a smoky posole." Also recommended: bar manager Kevin Ludwig's cocktails that stay closer to the Mex-Tex theme (heavier cocktails "make less sense amid La Taq's fun, playful fare.")

Now, onto the negatives: Russell writes "there's no shortage of salt here" (suggesting a beer to combat that effect," and several dishes necessitated "Herculean chewing strength — gristle in the lamb tacos, garlic skin in the nopal salad, enough cartilage and bone among the fall-apart pork ribs in chile verde to make taco construction a hopeless mess." Russell ultimately advises two ways to enjoy La Taq: as a way to scarf down brisket while skipping the Podnah's line, or to "to treat it like a Mexican-accented reincarnation of Beaker & Flask." [OregonLive]

The Mercury's Chris Onstad opens his review of the Sugar Cube with a declaration: Some lucky artists have an "innate feeling for their tools, and the ability to create work that looks natural, comfortable, and effortless." Unsurprisingly, here's how the declaration works: The Sugar Cube's Kir Jensen has "it," and her mastery of pastry forced Onstad "seriously recalibrate my expectations of what baked goods can be." Savory quiches have "unparalleled texture and flavor," Chocolate Blackout cake is described as "a tour de force of execution and gestalt."

Ultimately, the Sugar Cube dishes up treats with such "consistent richness, tenderness, and curb appeal" that snobbery toward other, lesser desserts might happen. Onstad writes: "(Think back to all the off-blond and near-white pie crusts you had over the holidays. Pathetic. Unacceptable. Unenlightened.)" [Mercury]

Meanwhile, WW's Martin Cizmar visits Portland's other all-vegan strip club, the Black Cauldron, and, well, "unless you're vegan, you're probably better off with a beer and a stack of $2 bills." Should you find yourself at the Black Cauldron, order up the samosa (which "packs big curry flavor" and pairs with an "excellent" sweet chili dipping sauce), and the tepidly recommended yakisoba and Diablo burger. On the avoid list: a "floppy, tepid" stroganoff and the "inedible" mac and cheese. But perhaps the strip club's best bet? "One free lap dance per hour is given after 9p.m." [WW]
· All Previous Week in Reviews Coverage [Eater PDX]

La Taq

1625 Northeast Killingsworth Street, , OR 97211 (971) 888-5687 Visit Website

The Sugar Cube

3039 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211

Podnah's Pit Barbecue

1625 NE Killingsworth Street, Portland, OR 97211 Visit Website