The decision of where to eat was left to me, and I opted for Mexican food.
A couple of years ago, I mentioned in an old post on the Portland Metroblog that Portland has a serious dearth of good Mexican food. Recently, one of my favorite places, Romo’s, shut down, and I was left in a bit of a learch until my wife heard about La Bamba. Located on SE 49th and Powell, the restaurant appears to be family-owned.
In my two visits, I’ve found two truths. The place is not busy. And the food is some of the best Mexican I’ve ever had.
Last night, I opted for the Burrito Cancun. A combination of shrimp, crab, and chicken stuffed into a flour tortilla, it was absolutely delicious. The beans that came with it were typically delicious black beans. The rice was good, not too dry and well-flavored, which I find to be the exception as opposed to the rule in the world of Mexican rices.
There’s a wide selection of drinks available, though I always lean towards beer with Mexican food. The restaurant has all the usual suspects in bottles (including Corona and Sol, which are the beers I lean towards in these contexts) as well as a variety of local micros and other beers (Dave had a Mirror Pond on tap).
La Bamba has a very diverse menu. See these examples...
I’ve found that although there are all of the usual things that one could jump to in order to have what they’re used to (chimichangas, fish tacos, etc.), I’ve also found that the menu has a lot of exciting stuff that I’ve never seen before, and as such I find La Bamba to be an exciting, and inexpensive, place to challenge my palate and discover something new. I hope to see you there.
Of course, the reason to go to these places is never so much the atmosphere, but instead is about the food. And, as sushi goes, Masu is currently 1a on my list (if Yoko's is 1) of the top places in town.
The servings at Masu are generally quite generous. Nigiri, as usual, comes in servings of two pieces per order. Rolls generally come in servings of 6-12 pieces, depending on what kind you get. They aren't inexpensive, but that said, they are worth what you pay. The fish is very good quality, the combinations in the rolls are creative, and there are a variety of interesting sauces that get worked into the rotation which provide some interesting variety you don't get at most places.
And they have a neat nigiri order of quail egg on fish egg, which is good for impressing the ladies.
And then bonus points to any place that has a future-tech hand-warmer in the restroom...
Masu is incredible. I'll be going back to Yoko's to see if a re-ranking is in order. And I'm interested in suggestions for other sushi places in town, so share your thoughts...
I’ve had a few opportunities to go recently. We went on my daughter’s second birthday, knowing that she’d love the “No Fish,” which are specially-prepared, fish-shaped cornmeal pastries containing a variety of fillings, while we enjoyed one of the scratch-made soups.
This weekend, to launch our anniversary eat-a-rama, we changed our minds. We’d been planning Pambiche, but had made the plan thinking that we’d already have left our daughter with her grandmother. Things didn’t work out like planned, however, so we chose a more family-friendly lunch location.
For this visit, my wife enjoyed the “Cowboy Chowder,” a concoction of rice, cheese, and potatoes in some sort of creamy broth. I went for the lentil dal, which is always fantastic and is a mainstay at No Fish Go Fish. For fish, I had a mushroom pate (one of the new line of special No Fish) and the black olive, garlic, and basil No Fish, while my daughter had Apple Cinnamon and a PB&J.
No Fish Go Fish is super-affordable; the average lunch special (soup and two No Fish) is about $5.50, and if you choose a deluxe No Fish the cost goes up by fifty cents each. And the people working there, whether one of the two owners or one of their chums, are always friendly. At the restaurant itself, you can opt for non-soup items, but where the strength of No Fish Go Fish is the soup, there’s no real reason to diverge from the really good stuff.
Our reservations were for 8:30 pm. Alas, we were not seated until about 10 pm. The place was packed, and it was New Year's Eve, so I wasn't too upset. That was the only down-side to the evening.
We started with two appetizers, the crab-stuffed mushrooms and the calamari. Both were delicous, and there was enough for four people (even after the 1 1/2 hour wait).
For dinner, my wife had the Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi (she always has the Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi). I opted for the swordfish, blackened. She loved her selection (that's why she always gets it). And, I must say, my swordfish was the best I have ever had, anywhere. It was blackened to perfection, and the swordfish was moist and tender.
For dessert, each couple ordered the Hot Chocolate Lava Cake. Here's the description from the menu: "Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, molten center, Dreyer's® vanilla ice cream, served with warm chocolate sauce and Heath Bar Crunch>" The shorter description would be "chocolate sin." If you are going to select this for dessert, and you really must order it, please be advised that you must order it when you order your dinner, as it takes 20 minutes, to prepare.
All in all, a wonderful evening and meal...good company, good food and a good view. The Chart House demonstrated once again why it remains in my top ten restaurants in Portland.
Anyway, the first half of January we're in detox mode, doing the annual flushing of our systems using the much-reviled but remarkably effective "The Master Cleanse" diet.
So, anyway, don't expect much new in the next two weeks (although JLowe did claim dibs on writing up our foursome's New Year's Eve outing to The Charthouse, which--aside from being seated an hour after our reservation time--was absolutely lovely).
But what is perhaps more remarkable is the amout of content that didn't get put up this year. We have this rule, you see: no writing about a place once a whole day has passed since you ate there. The rule was designed to ensure only the freshest of posts. The rule ended up killing a lot of good material.
Some of the places that didn't get posted last year, despite our gastronomic endeavors at each:
- The Hunan
- Gresham Typhoon
- Masu Sushi
- Yuki Sushi
- Buffalo Wildwings
- The Charthouse
- Chin Yen
- Jake's Bar and Grill
- La Bamba
And, certainly, many more I'm just failing to remember.
Seems our "freshness" rule got in the way of sharing quality info. So, our New Year's resolutions:
MORE POSTS, MORE PICTURES, and NO MORE RULES (at least, none that constrain us from offering useful info; if a post will suffer from too much time passing, we'll let it go in favor of another outing).
Also, if you have a place you're interested in and want to know about, let us know. We take suggestions, but chances are also pretty high that, between JLowe and I, we've been there and can offer some advice.
Finally, I hereby declare the death of GastroBoy. He was once a useful member of this blog; now he's just dead weight. Fare thee well, Chuck.