Adán Fausto has chopped, seared, and sauteed at Michelin-starred restaurants, a sorority house, and dive bars. He has worked for celebrity chefs like Michael Mina and José Andrés, and he private cheffed for Apple CEO Tim Cook. He helped open the now-closed Bouchon Beverly Hills, and he served as the executive chef of Sweet Woodruff, the casual counterpart to San Francisco’s Sons & Daughters. He has cooked in Denmark, New York, and Los Angeles, and starting Friday, he’ll wrap burritos from a market on Southeast Division.
Fausto, the chef behind Portland pop-ups Paradise Mariscos and Tacos Con Onda, is in the process of opening two Portland Mexican restaurants in the former Woodsman Tavern space. The first, Los Burros Supremos, will be a takeout-and-delivery-centric market specializing in a few regional styles of burritos, plus Mexican American-made products and beverages. In early 2023, he’ll open La Leñadora, pairing light seafood dishes like aguachiles and ceviches with large-format proteins like lamb shank birria and seafood fajitas. The through line at both restaurants will be his tortillas: Norteño-style flour tortillas as well as house-nixtamalized corn tortillas.
Fausto didn’t grow up thinking he’d be a chef. As a teenager, he took an internship at a hotel, and after determining he was “too awkward” for front-of-house (his words), management moved him to the hotel restaurant’s kitchen. “I grew up two miles away from Watts, pretty hood as I would say,” he says. “I thought, ‘Why don’t I find a nice place to work?’”
That first gig became a career resembling a culinary name-dropper’s dream blunt rotation: stints working for David Myers, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, and Alain Ducasse, not to mention Mina and Andrés. After years in fine dining, however, Fausto decided he wanted to step away. “Honestly, it was my wife,” he says. “Meeting her, I realized I didn’t want a Michelin star, that wasn’t for me, but I could bring that attention to detail to a different style of food.”
Around that time, Fausto also began to dig into his heritage. A trip to Mexico City — and a meal at seafood destination Contramar — awakened interest in his culinary background, and he started to work for more Mexican restaurants in California, including Contramar chef Gabriela Cámara’s U.S. outpost, Cala. Soon after he moved to Portland, he started working for Eater Young Gun Jacob Harth’s seafood pop-up, with the idea of starting his own. “The plan was always to do Mexican seafood, so I thought that’d be a good place to work,” he says. “I drove out four days a week, three hours total commute each day, and cooked at an oyster farm. It was pretty awesome.”
In 2022, Fausto began Paradise Mariscos, a summertime pop-up in the back lot behind Northeast Portland torta shop Guero. The pop-up sold dishes like black cod flautas and tuna tostadas, which the Oregonian’s Michael Russell called “as tasty a version of the dish as I’ve had in Oregon.” Fausto followed up Paradise Mariscos with Tacos Con Onda, which served mesquite-grilled carne asada and the chef’s own flour tortillas within the Woodsman Tavern’s unused backyard. When the Woodsman closed, restaurant group Submarine Hospitality offered him the space.
Echoes of the pop-ups can be heard within both restaurants. At Los Burros Supremos, Onda’s mesquite-grilled carne asada will arrive wrapped in those Sonoran-style flour tortillas, either simply paired with pinto beans and avocado, or in a Mission-style burrito with pinto beans, rice, lime crema, salsa roja, and cheese. The Mission-style burritos will also come with filling choices like chicken tinga and carnitas, as well as sweet potatoes charred over mesquite. For something lighter, the restaurant serves another regional burrito style, the rice-free, refried bean-filled Norteños — because they’re much smaller than Mission-style burritos, each order will come with two. On the weekends, the restaurant will fill burritos with chilaquiles, as well as a choice of protein, a fried egg, pinto beans, and lime crema. “I love chilaquiles,” he says. “It’s something I grew up with. It was really special to get a big pile of tortilla chips with an egg. I think it’s one of the greatest dishes of all time.”
Chilaquiles will also appear on the menu at La Leñadora, once it begins brunch service; to start, however, the restaurant will focus on dinner service, emphasizing seafood. Where remnants of Tacos Con Onda appear on the Burros Supremos menu, pieces of Paradise Mariscos land within the kitchen at La Leñadora. The restaurant will serve a version of the pop-up’s flautas, filled with potato confit and smoked black cod, alongside other seafood dishes and snacks. Alternatively, meals may begin with things like queso fundido or delicata squash tostadas. Being a Submarine Hospitality restaurant, La Leñadora will have quite a few vegetable dishes, including a take on a Caesar salad and a dish incorporating mole blanco with prickly pear.
However, much of the menu at La Leñadora will highlight larger-format dishes meant to be shared with the table: a whole fish in the style of Contramar, where one side is rubbed in shrimp paste while the other gets a scallion-herb paste; whole hog carnitas, with beans, fresh tortillas, salsas, and a seasonal vegetable salad to cut the fat; and the aforementioned seafood fajitas, served with an array of accompaniments like beans, house pickles and salsas, and chile oil.
“I think fajitas get a bad wrap, but they’re also Northern Mexican,” he says. “It’s something my family grew up making... bring it back to a family table.”
Los Burros Supremos will open Friday, October 27 at 4529 SE Division Street.