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An overhead picture of Tierra del Sol’s mole amarillo on the left and mole verde on the right
Moles from Tierra del Sol
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/EPDX

Portland's 17 Standout Mexican Restaurants and Food Carts

From mole to menudo

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Moles from Tierra del Sol
| Brooke Jackson-Glidden/EPDX

Portland’s Mexican food scene doesn’t get enough credit. It’s tempting to constantly frame a city’s Mexican food against that of Los Angeles or El Paso, but in the case of Portland, that flattens the great Oaxacan and Yucatecan spots that have been thriving here for years, not to mention the uniquely homegrown takes on the cuisine that compellingly argue for compressed watermelon aguachile and fried cauliflower in pipián. Portland’s Mexican restaurants, food carts, and mercados use heritage masa nixtamalized in town for tamales and tacos, stock delis with flavorful nopales salads, and simmer moles passed down through generations. From the old-school tiendas ladling bowls of menudo to the newer carts slinging birria, these destinations reveal the layers and nuances of the city’s take on Mexican cuisine.

Don’t see a favorite Mexican restaurant? Check out the birria, burrito, and taco maps or rally for it in the comments. Also, it’s worth noting that Gresham is a Mexican food haven in greater Portland; for more taquerias east of 205, this map may help. (Note: The points on this map guide are not ranked; rather, they’re organized geographically.)

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Tienda Y Panaderia Santa Cruz

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8630 N Lombard St
Portland, OR 97203
(503) 286-7302
Visit Website

Hidden behind a St. Johns mercado and panaderia, this no-frills taqueria is known for its lime-laden avocado salsa, so beloved that the owners have set limits on how much one diner can take. The salsas are particularly nice on the shop’s gargantuan burritos, straining to contain mounds of cabeza or carnitas. However, a bowl of the restaurant’s deeply rich and broody menudo is hard to beat, avocado salsa or not.

2. Titos Taquitos

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4616 S Vermont St
Portland, OR 97219
(503) 406-5935

A newcomer in the Portland Mexican food scene, the only thing Tito’s Taquitos masters better than its namesake dish is the flavor of char: Grilled tomatoes in an adobo marinade match the earthiness of chickpeas, charred habaneros balance the sweetness of carrots in a salsa, and chile de arbol salsa can stand up to the bright salsa verde poured on top of those crispy, silky-potato-filled taquitos. The berry-topped tres leches is a popular finish to any meal at this turquoise cart.

3. Tehuana Oaxacan Cuisine

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1341 N Killingsworth St
Portland, OR 97217
(360) 721-3457
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With carts in North and Northwest Portland, Tehuana is one of the city’s many exceptional Oaxacan spots, serving dishes like tomato-drenched entomatadas, soft and springy memelitas, and enchiladas drenched in a nutty mole negra topped with a satisfyingly salty hit of queso. Any of the shop’s tacos are also stunning, especially when topped with some of the shop’s morita salsa.

4. República

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721 NW 9th Ave #175
Portland, OR 97209
(541) 900-5836
Visit Website

During the pandemic, the Pearl District’s República has excelled as an all-day cafe serving coffee and concha breakfast sandwiches in the morning and tortas and multi-colored, house-nixtamalized masa dishes during the afternoon. However, the evening “de noche” menu is now the crowning jewel, featuring five courses of meticulously plated food paired with wines from Mexican vintners. Chef Lauro Romero flexes his creativity with dishes like mole made from almonds and peaches, aguachile made with compressed watermelon and cucumber roses, and composed fideos, incorporating chile negro and escamoles (ant eggs, a pre-Colombian staple). Through the meal, servers detail the historic and personal context of each dish, fleshing out the larger story of exceptionally nuanced, artistically rich dishes. Reservations are a must for the de noche tasting menu, which changes regularly.

5. Tamale Boy

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1764 NE Dekum St
Portland, OR 97211
(503) 206-8022
Visit Website

Chef and owner Jaime Soltero Jr. may have built his reputation on nourishing, well-priced tamales as a catering company and food cart, but at his fast-casual restaurants, he has many other recipes up his sleeve: Sinaloa-style ceviche (almost like aguachile) with halibut and shrimp, green masa huaraches with adobo-marinated cauliflower, and an exceptional table-side guacamole, plus seasonal specials. Still, those seeking the restaurant’s namesake dish will find the shop’s Oaxacan-style tamales, silken from the banana-leaf wrap and twice-cooked masa, particularly appealing. Tamale Boy also has locations on North Russell Street and in Happy Valley.

6. Nuestra Cocina

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2135 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97202
(503) 232-2135
Visit Website

Despite Division’s constant turnover, Nuestra Cocina has held its spot on the edge of Ladd’s Addition for over 15 years, attracting crowds for sopes, chiles rellenos, and piles of tortillas made with the family heirloom tortilla press. The menu does change fairly often, swapping in seasonal dishes like sweet summer corn elotes. Mosaic-tiled tabletops and warm wood give off a homey vibe, fitting for a restaurant that’s named “Our Kitchen.”

7. Nightingale

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18-20 NE 28th Ave
Portland, OR 97232
(971) 254-9017
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Kerns’s Nightingale could be described as a small cocktail bar that also serves creative Mexican-Pacific Northwestern food; that translates to drinks like the Constructive Summer —blanco tequila, watermelon-mint cordial, mezcal, artichoke, lime, agave, and a chili salt rim — and salads with mezcal-marinated Maryhill nectarines. Opening chef Luna Contreras has left the restaurant and is now focusing on her pop-up, Chelo; Nightingale’s new chef, Itztli De La Torre, is now concocting dishes like Poblano ragu made with wild boar and brown butter crema, as well as vadouvan-butter elotes.

8. Taquería Los Puñales

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3312 SE Belmont St
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 206-7233
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Belmont Street’s unapologetically queer taqueria might showcase subversive art and campy photos, yet it serves serious guiasados, based on co-owner David Madrigal’s family recipes and his industry experience. Customers can expect traditional braises like chicken tinga and pork adobada, as well as vegan mole and carne asada with pesto, served atop small, handmade corn tortillas.

9. Xico

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3715 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97202
(503) 548-6343
Visit Website

Xico remains popular despite the city’s abundance of artisanal Mexican food, perhaps partly due to its courtyard patio, an ideal spot to sip from an excellent mezcal and tequila selection, and partly because the restaurant grinds organic corn into tortillas and fries its thick chips daily. The airy and slightly upscale restaurant serves dishes like achiote-rubbed pork roasted overnight in banana leaves and is one of the only places in Portland to score a bacon-wrapped Sonoran dog.

10. Santo Domingo Taqueria

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5447 NE 42nd Ave
Portland, OR 97218
(503) 284-8446
Visit Website

Santo Domingo Taqueria is a counter-service mainstay in the rapidly changing Cully neighborhood. Despite serving Mexico’s greatest hits from a long list of burritos and tacos, the restaurant has started emphasizing its Oaxacan roots with dishes like big-enough-for-two tlayudas, described as “Oaxacan-style pizza.” It’s also worth a visit for the menudo: Dark red and teeming with tripe, calve’s feet, and hominy, the fortifying soup is one of the best versions inside city limits.

A picture of a red bowl of menudo with tortillas and a Jarritos at Santo Domingo Taqueria
A bowl of menudo with a side of tortillas
Krista Garcia/EPDX

11. Principe Maya

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7238 SE Foster Rd
Portland, OR 97206
(503) 896-1149
Visit Website

Principe Maya, a food cart in the Portland Mercado, is one of the newest additions to the city’s Yucatecan scene, and offers more than the ubiquitously available options like panuchos. Diners can branch out with kibis (yes, derived from Lebanese kibbeh), fried football-shaped croquettes made from cracked wheat and a mixture of ground beef and pork with a hint of mint; the cart’s polcan — pan-fried masa disks filled with a mixture of white beans, ground pumpkin seeds, pickled cabbage, and epazote — are another standout hard to find on other Portland menus. It would be a grave mistake to miss out on Principe Maya’s punchy habanero salsa and pickled onions, two trademarks of the cuisine.

Kibis, brown croquettes topped with red pickled onions, in the foreground.
Kibis and polcanes at Principe Maya
Krista/EPDX

12. Tierra Del Sol Cuisine and Catering

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7238 SE Foster Rd #1
Portland, OR 97206
(503) 975-4805
Visit Website

While all of the carts in the Portland Mercado are worth sampling, Tierra Del Sol is a Mexican standout for its substantial tlayuda, a thin grilled corn tortilla that’s big as a plate and plenty for two, served open-faced and topped with chicharron, black beans, Oaxacan cheese, cabbage, tomatoes, avocado, and more. It might seem easy to skip the tetelas stuffed with creamy beans and rich Oaxacan moles, though it’s not recommended.

13. Mixteca Mexican Restaurant

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2320 SE 82nd Ave
Portland, OR 97216
(503) 788-7694
Visit Website

Mole negro, made from 21 ingredients including charred chilhuacle negro and morita chiles, is this Oaxacan restaurant’s calling card; the sienna-hued sauce is available over smothered chicken legs, blanketing pork enchiladas, and in the core of the tamales Oaxaqueños steamed in banana leaves. During the pandemic, the restaurant added a covered patio in front with a firepit, adding a little charm to 82nd Ave.

14. Tortilleria y Tienda De Leon’s

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16223 NE Glisan St
Portland, OR 97230

Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon’s, a Mexican grocery store on the Portland-Gresham border, isn’t exactly a secret among Mexican food lovers. While the deli case up front is filled with well-priced guisados, tender carnitas, and cochinita pibil, a scoop of the nopales salad is a crucial accompaniment. Souvenirs like tubs of salsa, pints of birria, or poop emoji piñatas are available to go.

15. Don Kamaron Restaurant

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14130 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97236
(503) 760-4018
Visit Website

There are a handful of Mexican seafood restaurants in Portland: Cully’s Mariscos El Malecon might be more central, but it’s worth crossing 205 and heading to Don Kamaron, which recently relocated to a larger, modern space with moody black walls and bar seating, for cocteles, shrimp empanadas, and molcajetes brimming with shrimp, octopus, and oysters. Still, the zarandeados, spicy, grilled head-on shrimp, is a house favorite.

16. Birrieria La Plaza

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600 SE 146th Ave
Portland, OR 97233

In a short time, Portland area’s birria scene has grown by leaps and bounds. Everyone might have their favorite cart, but Birrieria La Plaza remains foundational. Customers come for the gooey, chile-oil-slicked quesatacos, dunked in spicy consomme, a secret recipe credited to owner Oracio Hernandez’s mother; the cart also features the tender braised beef in dishes like mulitas, vampiros, and other exemplary goodies

17. La Herradura

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90 NE Division St
Gresham, OR 97030
(503) 491-1650

For some of the best barbacoa de borrego in town, La Herradura, a Gresham strip mall restaurant, delivers — only on the weekends, however. The space has a split personality: counter-service for the fast food-like seating on the left, and green vinyl booths, full menus, and table service on the right. Most of the classics are covered, but the braised lamb, served with rich consomme containing rice and garbanzos and soft handmade tortillas on the side, is a sure bet. The regulars make sure order a michelada served in a big mug, rimmed with salt and chile powder.

A picture of a tortilla topped with meat and salsa with a side of consomme
A taco at La Herradura
Krista Garcia/EPDX

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1. Tienda Y Panaderia Santa Cruz

8630 N Lombard St, Portland, OR 97203

Hidden behind a St. Johns mercado and panaderia, this no-frills taqueria is known for its lime-laden avocado salsa, so beloved that the owners have set limits on how much one diner can take. The salsas are particularly nice on the shop’s gargantuan burritos, straining to contain mounds of cabeza or carnitas. However, a bowl of the restaurant’s deeply rich and broody menudo is hard to beat, avocado salsa or not.

8630 N Lombard St
Portland, OR 97203

2. Titos Taquitos

4616 S Vermont St, Portland, OR 97219

A newcomer in the Portland Mexican food scene, the only thing Tito’s Taquitos masters better than its namesake dish is the flavor of char: Grilled tomatoes in an adobo marinade match the earthiness of chickpeas, charred habaneros balance the sweetness of carrots in a salsa, and chile de arbol salsa can stand up to the bright salsa verde poured on top of those crispy, silky-potato-filled taquitos. The berry-topped tres leches is a popular finish to any meal at this turquoise cart.

4616 S Vermont St
Portland, OR 97219

3. Tehuana Oaxacan Cuisine

1341 N Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97217

With carts in North and Northwest Portland, Tehuana is one of the city’s many exceptional Oaxacan spots, serving dishes like tomato-drenched entomatadas, soft and springy memelitas, and enchiladas drenched in a nutty mole negra topped with a satisfyingly salty hit of queso. Any of the shop’s tacos are also stunning, especially when topped with some of the shop’s morita salsa.

1341 N Killingsworth St
Portland, OR 97217

4. República

721 NW 9th Ave #175, Portland, OR 97209

During the pandemic, the Pearl District’s República has excelled as an all-day cafe serving coffee and concha breakfast sandwiches in the morning and tortas and multi-colored, house-nixtamalized masa dishes during the afternoon. However, the evening “de noche” menu is now the crowning jewel, featuring five courses of meticulously plated food paired with wines from Mexican vintners. Chef Lauro Romero flexes his creativity with dishes like mole made from almonds and peaches, aguachile made with compressed watermelon and cucumber roses, and composed fideos, incorporating chile negro and escamoles (ant eggs, a pre-Colombian staple). Through the meal, servers detail the historic and personal context of each dish, fleshing out the larger story of exceptionally nuanced, artistically rich dishes. Reservations are a must for the de noche tasting menu, which changes regularly.

721 NW 9th Ave #175
Portland, OR 97209

5. Tamale Boy

1764 NE Dekum St, Portland, OR 97211

Chef and owner Jaime Soltero Jr. may have built his reputation on nourishing, well-priced tamales as a catering company and food cart, but at his fast-casual restaurants, he has many other recipes up his sleeve: Sinaloa-style ceviche (almost like aguachile) with halibut and shrimp, green masa huaraches with adobo-marinated cauliflower, and an exceptional table-side guacamole, plus seasonal specials. Still, those seeking the restaurant’s namesake dish will find the shop’s Oaxacan-style tamales, silken from the banana-leaf wrap and twice-cooked masa, particularly appealing. Tamale Boy also has locations on North Russell Street and in Happy Valley.

1764 NE Dekum St
Portland, OR 97211

6. Nuestra Cocina

2135 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202

Despite Division’s constant turnover, Nuestra Cocina has held its spot on the edge of Ladd’s Addition for over 15 years, attracting crowds for sopes, chiles rellenos, and piles of tortillas made with the family heirloom tortilla press. The menu does change fairly often, swapping in seasonal dishes like sweet summer corn elotes. Mosaic-tiled tabletops and warm wood give off a homey vibe, fitting for a restaurant that’s named “Our Kitchen.”

2135 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97202

7. Nightingale

18-20 NE 28th Ave, Portland, OR 97232

Kerns’s Nightingale could be described as a small cocktail bar that also serves creative Mexican-Pacific Northwestern food; that translates to drinks like the Constructive Summer —blanco tequila, watermelon-mint cordial, mezcal, artichoke, lime, agave, and a chili salt rim — and salads with mezcal-marinated Maryhill nectarines. Opening chef Luna Contreras has left the restaurant and is now focusing on her pop-up, Chelo; Nightingale’s new chef, Itztli De La Torre, is now concocting dishes like Poblano ragu made with wild boar and brown butter crema, as well as vadouvan-butter elotes.

18-20 NE 28th Ave
Portland, OR 97232

8. Taquería Los Puñales

3312 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214

Belmont Street’s unapologetically queer taqueria might showcase subversive art and campy photos, yet it serves serious guiasados, based on co-owner David Madrigal’s family recipes and his industry experience. Customers can expect traditional braises like chicken tinga and pork adobada, as well as vegan mole and carne asada with pesto, served atop small, handmade corn tortillas.

3312 SE Belmont St
Portland, OR 97214

9. Xico

3715 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202

Xico remains popular despite the city’s abundance of artisanal Mexican food, perhaps partly due to its courtyard patio, an ideal spot to sip from an excellent mezcal and tequila selection, and partly because the restaurant grinds organic corn into tortillas and fries its thick chips daily. The airy and slightly upscale restaurant serves dishes like achiote-rubbed pork roasted overnight in banana leaves and is one of the only places in Portland to score a bacon-wrapped Sonoran dog.

3715 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97202

10. Santo Domingo Taqueria

5447 NE 42nd Ave, Portland, OR 97218
A picture of a red bowl of menudo with tortillas and a Jarritos at Santo Domingo Taqueria
A bowl of menudo with a side of tortillas
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Santo Domingo Taqueria is a counter-service mainstay in the rapidly changing Cully neighborhood. Despite serving Mexico’s greatest hits from a long list of burritos and tacos, the restaurant has started emphasizing its Oaxacan roots with dishes like big-enough-for-two tlayudas, described as “Oaxacan-style pizza.” It’s also worth a visit for the menudo: Dark red and teeming with tripe, calve’s feet, and hominy, the fortifying soup is one of the best versions inside city limits.

5447 NE 42nd Ave
Portland, OR 97218

11. Principe Maya

7238 SE Foster Rd, Portland, OR 97206
Kibis, brown croquettes topped with red pickled onions, in the foreground.
Kibis and polcanes at Principe Maya
Krista/EPDX

Principe Maya, a food cart in the Portland Mercado, is one of the newest additions to the city’s Yucatecan scene, and offers more than the ubiquitously available options like panuchos. Diners can branch out with kibis (yes, derived from Lebanese kibbeh), fried football-shaped croquettes made from cracked wheat and a mixture of ground beef and pork with a hint of mint; the cart’s polcan — pan-fried masa disks filled with a mixture of white beans, ground pumpkin seeds, pickled cabbage, and epazote — are another standout hard to find on other Portland menus. It would be a grave mistake to miss out on Principe Maya’s punchy habanero salsa and pickled onions, two trademarks of the cuisine.

7238 SE Foster Rd
Portland, OR 97206

12. Tierra Del Sol Cuisine and Catering

7238 SE Foster Rd #1, Portland, OR 97206

While all of the carts in the Portland Mercado are worth sampling, Tierra Del Sol is a Mexican standout for its substantial tlayuda, a thin grilled corn tortilla that’s big as a plate and plenty for two, served open-faced and topped with chicharron, black beans, Oaxacan cheese, cabbage, tomatoes, avocado, and more. It might seem easy to skip the tetelas stuffed with creamy beans and rich Oaxacan moles, though it’s not recommended.

7238 SE Foster Rd #1
Portland, OR 97206

13. Mixteca Mexican Restaurant

2320 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR 97216

Mole negro, made from 21 ingredients including charred chilhuacle negro and morita chiles, is this Oaxacan restaurant’s calling card; the sienna-hued sauce is available over smothered chicken legs, blanketing pork enchiladas, and in the core of the tamales Oaxaqueños steamed in banana leaves. During the pandemic, the restaurant added a covered patio in front with a firepit, adding a little charm to 82nd Ave.

2320 SE 82nd Ave
Portland, OR 97216

14. Tortilleria y Tienda De Leon’s

16223 NE Glisan St, Portland, OR 97230

Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon’s, a Mexican grocery store on the Portland-Gresham border, isn’t exactly a secret among Mexican food lovers. While the deli case up front is filled with well-priced guisados, tender carnitas, and cochinita pibil, a scoop of the nopales salad is a crucial accompaniment. Souvenirs like tubs of salsa, pints of birria, or poop emoji piñatas are available to go.

16223 NE Glisan St
Portland, OR 97230

15. Don Kamaron Restaurant

14130 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97236

There are a handful of Mexican seafood restaurants in Portland: Cully’s Mariscos El Malecon might be more central, but it’s worth crossing 205 and heading to Don Kamaron, which recently relocated to a larger, modern space with moody black walls and bar seating, for cocteles, shrimp empanadas, and molcajetes brimming with shrimp, octopus, and oysters. Still, the zarandeados, spicy, grilled head-on shrimp, is a house favorite.

14130 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97236

Related Maps

16. Birrieria La Plaza

600 SE 146th Ave, Portland, OR 97233

In a short time, Portland area’s birria scene has grown by leaps and bounds. Everyone might have their favorite cart, but Birrieria La Plaza remains foundational. Customers come for the gooey, chile-oil-slicked quesatacos, dunked in spicy consomme, a secret recipe credited to owner Oracio Hernandez’s mother; the cart also features the tender braised beef in dishes like mulitas, vampiros, and other exemplary goodies

600 SE 146th Ave
Portland, OR 97233

17. La Herradura

90 NE Division St, Gresham, OR 97030
A picture of a tortilla topped with meat and salsa with a side of consomme
A taco at La Herradura
Krista Garcia/EPDX

For some of the best barbacoa de borrego in town, La Herradura, a Gresham strip mall restaurant, delivers — only on the weekends, however. The space has a split personality: counter-service for the fast food-like seating on the left, and green vinyl booths, full menus, and table service on the right. Most of the classics are covered, but the braised lamb, served with rich consomme containing rice and garbanzos and soft handmade tortillas on the side, is a sure bet. The regulars make sure order a michelada served in a big mug, rimmed with salt and chile powder.

90 NE Division St
Gresham, OR 97030

Related Maps