Amecameca's Profile

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SF Dish of the Month (Jan 2013) - Voting

DAN DAN MIAN

Jan 01, 2013
Amecameca in San Francisco Bay Area

SF Dish of the Month (Jan 2013) - Nominations

DAN DAN MIAN

Dec 28, 2012
Amecameca in San Francisco Bay Area

Best Mexican Food in Salem (2012 Update)

It's been two years since I posted about "Best Mexican Food in Salem." A lot has changed. I think three of the places I had in the original post are gone. But I have discovered a lot of new places since then.

I believe Salem is not just the capital of Oregon. It is the Mexican food capital of Oregon! There are now many wonderful places with very authentic Mexican food from different regions of Mexico. About one in five residents of Salem is Latino, the vast majority being recent emigrants from Mexico. That has made our city a Mexican food destination in the Pacific Northwest. None of these places is fancy. Many are grocery stores and meat markets that also have modest taquerias as part of their businesses. But the food at these places can be really outstanding. Come visit Salem and see what I mean.

Here are my top ten places for authentic Mexican food:

1) Los Temos (7000 Portland Road NE)
This place is on Hwy 99 just north of town on the way to Woodburn (a bit out in the country). Look for the sign with the goat head. That's the clue to what this place does best -- birria de chivo (roast goat). You can't go wrong ordering birria tacos or the birria "combinacion" which is goat meat with rice and beans. The corn tortillas are "hechas a mano" made by hand -- some of the best you have ever had. On weekends there is a conjunto band playing norteno music. Another good thing about this place is you can buy a beer. Many authentic places in Salem can't serve it because of Oregon's antiquated liquor license requirements, I am guessing. This place alone is worth the trip from Portland or Eugene.

2) Chula Vista Market and Taqueria (135 Lancaster NE)
This is a small grocery store with a restaurant in the back. It's a gem. Check out the specials. Sometimes they have four tacos for $5. If they have it, get the buche tacos. This is pig's stomach which sounds weird but is anything but. They are delicious. Trust me. Carnitas tacos are good too. If they are offering albondigas (meatball soup) you gotta get it. They make it up fresh to order so the vegetables are perfectly cooked (the carrots in the soup are a revelation). The tortillas here are handmade to order -- delicious. While you are waiting for your food to cook have a bowl of complimentary beans from the pot over by the wall. Drizzle them with a little of the chili oil salsa. Yum. There is a lot of other stuff on the menu here too. It's all good.

3) Plaza Morelia (3391 River Road N, Keizer)
This place is just over the border in Keizer. It's easy to miss on your left as you head north. Slow down and watch for it. It's another grocery store with a meat market and a restaurant in the back. The specialty here is lamb (borrego) which is only available on weekends. They also have birria de chivo (goat) on the weekends. If you come on the weekend by all means order the borrego. I think the huaraches here are especially good. These are thick oblong bases of masa topped with a thin coating of refried beans, and your choice of meat, cheese and lettuce and tomato. Thankfully you can get a beer with your meal here too. On your way out get some housemade chorizo seco at the meat market. This is Mexican sausage that is dried out a bit. Put it on your grill at home and cook it until all the fat runs out. Really delicious.

4) La Concentida Carneceria (1042 Lancaster Dr. NE)
This is a meat market that specializes in pork. They get the whole pig and cut it up behind the counter. In the back they have giant pots of pork fat bubbling away making chicharones and carnitas. I promise this will be some of the best carnitas (roast pork) you have ever had, simply because it is so fresh. There are two small booths under an annoying TV where you can sit and order up some carnitas tacos for only $1 each. These are really taquitos (small tacos) made with two tortillas (not handmade). The meat is so good you will want to eat at least three of these. This place is a gem for pork lovers.

5) Mercado San Francisco (1584 Lancaster Dr. NE)
Here is another grocery, meat market and tortilleria. They do it all and have a food counter and restaurant seating as well. They often have a special of Michoacan style barbarcoa tacos (look for the paper sign). This is roasted beef head. Sounds scary but is actually delicious. Try it if you are an adventurous eater. All the food is good here, but my favorite is the torta ahogada. This is a large sandwich made on a fresh bolillo with fresh carnitas. It is then "drowned" (that's what ahogada means) in a chili and tomato broth that soaks the bread and flavors the meat. You eat it with a knife and fork. These are common in Guadalajara, I believe. They have them several places around Salem but the ones here are the best I have had.

6) Azteca Bakery and Torteria (2138 Lancaster NE)
Yes, another place on Lancaster. Lancaster is fast becoming "Little Mexico." It is the ugliest street in Salem, but makes up for it with good Mexican food. This place specializes in food from the state of Oaxaca. They have things on their menu you don't see elsewhere. An example is molotes which are mashed potatoes mixed with chorizo and fried. They are topped with black beans and cheese. One order feeds two people! They also have good tamales, usually as a special. If they have rajas con queso tamales (tamales stuffed with roast poblano peppers and cheese), get them.

7) Salvador's Bakery (3790 Silverton Rd.)
This place has been here a long time. It has a meat counter, bakery and small selection of groceries. All of the food that you get at the food counter is good. I especially like their tamales and often pick up a dozen to go. You can eat them here too. They have an amazing salsa bar with about a dozen different salsas to try. You can get those to go too. They make a great tres leches cake that you can buy by the slice or take home a whole cake. Another good choice here is the pozole.

8) Junior's Taqueria (1705 Winter St.)
This is a sentimental favorite -- one of the pioneers of authentic Mexican food in Salem. I have been coming here with my family for years. All their soups and tacos are good. Look for the large choice of meats for your tacos on the blackboard to the right of the counter where you order. I have always thought they do an especially good job with their chili rellenos. Chicken sopes are also a good choice here for something a little different. The corn tortillas are handmade and excellent.

9) Taqueria El Tapatio (615 High St. NE)
If you are in downtown Salem and want good Mexican food, this place just on the northside of downtown is a solid choice. I especially like their lunch special of four taquitos and a drink for $5. Your choices include fish tacos and potato and chorizo tacos. Both are great choices. You can also get a Mexican drink like a horchata or tamarindo in the $5 deal, not just a fountain drink. A great lunch!

10) La Fondita (3330 Center St NE)
Okay, this place just opened and it may be too soon to put them on a best of Salem list. But I have high hopes. They opened in the same spot that used to have a great Guerrero-style place called Habanero that sadly closed. The nice family that runs the new place has an interesting menu with some unusual dishes like flor de calabaza quesadillas and mixiote (which I haven't tried yet, but it sounds good). On the weekends they have birria de chivo and borrego and pozole verde. This place deserves to make it. An undiscovered gem perhaps. We'll see.

Please visit Salem and check out these wonderful authentic Mexican eating places!

Aug 06, 2012
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Best Mexican Food In Salem

Actually this place is called Aibertos. Confusing, I know. I haven't eaten there. Seems to be kind of like Muchas Gracias -- trying to appeal to both the gringos and the Mexicanos. I'm not knocking it. Actually the Oregon Burrito at Muchas Gracias is a guilty pleasure for me. But there are so may other great places to get the authentic Mexican within a couple miles of here that I have not bothered to try it.

Mar 02, 2012
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Best Mexican Food In Salem

No, I've never done that. I'll have to ask the friendly folks at Los Temos next time I am in there. I was there last weekend. My daughter who was visiting from Vancouver, BC, had to get her birria de chivo fix. It's soo good. The norteno band was jamming when we got there. Close your eyes and you could be in northern Mexico.

Mar 02, 2012
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

A Great Little Japanese Joint in Salem (Really!)

This place may have the best Japanese food between Portland and San Francisco. It's a little joint, more like a bar, and will be hard to find if you are not familiar with Salem. Momiji Japanese Crepes & Sushi on the east side of Salem has a sister restaurant in south Salem that is okay, but nothing special like this place.

The quality here is great and the prices are right. The nigiri sushi is only $1 each and there is lots to choose from. The sushi rolls are excellent with lots of variety (43 on the menu). We enjoyed the seaweed salad and the calamari salad, both only $3.75.

The diners next to us got the unagi donburi (grilled eel rice bowl) which looked very well-prepared. Next time.

For dessert there are four kinds of made to order Japanese crepes. Delicious! There is a good selection of beer and sake (13 on the menu). The vibe here is informal and friendly -- like a neighborhood bar. We loved it.

Check out the pictures below and see why this place is a real find. If you are traveling down I-5 it's about 5 minutes from the Market St. exit, but not easy to find without a map or GPS.

Feb 24, 2012
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Good cheap eats in Eugene OR?

I agree with you thirtyeyes about Ocean City for the best dim sum in Portland. But as long as we are comparing cities, I must insist that the best dim sum (and every other kind of Chinese food) is to be found north of the border in greater Richmond/Vancouver BC. No comparison to anything down here, I think.

Feb 24, 2012
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Good cheap eats in Eugene OR?

A Salem taco crawl is a satisfying way to spend an afternoon:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/792454

I have other posts about Salem Mexican food that might be of interest.

Feb 24, 2012
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Cannon Beach on a Budget

Cannon Beach is a great destination on the Oregon Coast. But it tends to be pretty upscale, and expensive for a lot of us 99 percenters. We recently had the use of a cabin loaned to us for a long weekend, and we were determined to eat well without overspending.

One good choice if you are on a budget is Bill's Tavern and Brewhouse. If you like good beer, you can't beat the happy hour, Sunday through Thursday from 5-7 where Bill's homebrews are only $3 a pint. There are a number to choose from and they are all great. The food here is very good too, and reasonably priced. We especially liked the seafood stew that was loaded with seafood and spiced with saffron and other spices that made it extra special. It can be hard to get a seat at Bill's, but it's worth a little wait.

Another great choice for seafood is Ecola Seafoods, a seafood market and deli. It's a very informal, family friendly place, but you can't get a bad meal here. Everything is fresh and well-prepared. Lots of people rave about the smoked mussel appetizer. I am allergic to mussels, so I went for the other appetizer I saw in the deli case which was calamari and some kind of seaweed, I believe. It was scrumptious! Even the humble cod fish and chips is excellent here because the fish is so fresh.

One night we decided to dine in at our cabin so we got salad greens from the local grocery and a big bottle of wine and a pizza to go from Pizza A'Fetta. This place has gotten great reviews for a long time. We had hoped to get the famous crab pizza, but were informed when we called in that they don't offer it in the low tourist season (aka winter). We had to settle for their Pizza of the Month, which did not disappoint. It was a combination of chicken, pesto, goat cheese, mozzarella cheese, and roma tomatoes. The thin crust was excellent -- a little burned on the bottom like we prefer. It was ready at the take out window in only 15 minutes.

Finally, I can report that to economize on breakfast, we ate every morning at Waves of Grain Bakery, on the north end of town. This little place serves wonderful fresh baked goods every morning, beginning at 7 am and has the local Sleepy Monk Coffee too. The individual quiches are especially delicious. It might be hard to get a place to sit if you get here later in the morning. This is a popular spot! But whatever you get here can be easily taken with you.

I hope this post will help those of you who plan to come to Cannon Beach to stay here more affordably.

Feb 21, 2012
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Buying truffles in Seattle (the tuber, not chocolate)

I have to stand up for the quality of Oregon black truffles. If you got some that "don't taste like anything" it is because they were picked too early or they weren't quite ripe when you bought them. I bought two nice black truffles today at the Salem Public Market near where I live in Salem, Oregon. The vendor is a nice lady from near Lebanon, OR, who owns a business called The Mushroomery that sells wild and cultivated fungi. She had Oregon blacks and whites today. I bought the blacks for $13/oz. so two of them just a bit smaller than a golf ball cost $16. That's a good deal. She helped me pick two that will reach their peak in a couple days. You Seattle hounds might want to give her a call and see if she would ship some truffles your way. Here is the contact info: http://www.manta.com/c/mttytw9/the-mu.... I'm sure she would not sell you truffles that don't taste like anything.

Dec 17, 2011
Amecameca in Greater Seattle

Best Mexican Food In Salem

Sorry you didn't hit El Pollo Feliz on a good day. I only go there in warm weather when you can sit outside at the picnic table and enjoy your food. Usually when they have rabbit they have a homemade sign by the road that says "conejo." Also you want to go there when you can see the smoke coming out of their grill so you know the meat is fresh. It's most reliable on the weekends. I suggest you come back next June on a Saturday or Sunday. In the winter I'd say the best places to go are Los Temos (for goat tacos and consome, and tamales if they have them -- you have to ask) or Plaza Morelia for lamb tacos and lamb soup (weekends only) or Mercado San Francisco for the torta ahogada. Those would be my top three choices for best Winter eats in Salem Mexican joints.

Dec 17, 2011
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Buying truffles in Seattle (the tuber, not chocolate)

The Salem Public Market in Salem is still a great source for all types of edible fungi. Rex is gone but he has been replaced by the good folks from the Mushroomery near Lebanon, Oregon. I picked up these two beauties for $5 each yesterday. Today they went into a delicious potato gratin and a roast chicken. Yum. I'd be curious to know how these prices compare to Portland and Seattle prices. If you have ever hunted for black truffles, $5 is not too much to pay. They are hard to find, so I'm happy to be able to buy them at this price. The Mushroomery also had white truffles and a nice variety of wild mushrooms (chanterelles, hedgehogs, fried chicken mushrooms and a couple others).

Dec 04, 2011
Amecameca in Greater Seattle

Santa Fe Report

I was on a six day business trip to Santa Fe and brought along my wife. We hadn't been to New Mexico in years and wanted to eat a lot of New Mexican food, but nothing trendy or expensive. There seems to be quite a bit of the latter in Santa Fe. For example, the chorizo breakfast burrito at Cafe Pasquals is $15. Sorry, but I won't pay that much for a burrito. We wanted some good, reasonably priced chow and we found it.

To get to Santa Fe from the airport in Albuquerque we decided to take the Rail Runner train (only $7!). We had to wait a couple hours for the next train but luckily we found the Standard Diner, only 3 blocks from the station. The 3 squashes soup was outstanding. A "cup" turned out to be a small bowl. My wife had the best green chili cheeseburger of the trip (we had several) and I ordered what Guy Fieri got when he came here for his TV show, the meatloaf. It wasn't very fresh, but I enjoyed it.

For our first dinner in Santa Fe we went to Del Charro Restaurant which was touted as being a real bargain joint. We sat outside on the covered patio near the fireplace. I had their frito pie (served on a plate) which was very satisfying and my wife had the green chili chowder with a grilled cheese sandwich. We had three draft local beers and natillas for dessert and our tab was about $30. This place is a great deal.

The next day we rented a car and went sightseeing in the area. We wanted to try the famous Restaurante Rancho de Chimayo on the "high road" to Taos. We got there about 2 pm and the place was still doing a busy lunch business. I got the "pequeno" (small) pork adovado plate and my wife had the tamales. The pequeno plate was plenty big and all the food was delicious. The complimentary sopapillas for dessert are the best. They served us four but we had to leave two behind because we were stuffed. This place is really worth the trip to Chimayo.

One morning for breakfast we got up early before my meetings and hit the Tecolote Cafe when it opened at 7 am. This place is a Santa Fe institution, and for good reason. I had the "carne y juevos" which was more pork adovada and eggs (can't get enough adovada). It was more picante than usual and the waitress was concerned that it might be too much for me. But I managed. The tortillas on the side helped to tone down the heat. My wife had the juevos rancheros with the complimentary fresh made breakfast muffins. You have to come here for breakfast when you visit Santa Fe.

On our next to last evening my business associates wanted to go somewhere as a group. The Blue Corn Cafe accommodated about 18 of us on short notice. This turned out to be a very good choice. I had a cup of the corn chipotle soup and a green chili cheeseburger with the IPA they make themselves. My wife splurged on the green chili mac and cheese served with grilled chicken on top. The service for our large group was attentive. This place has good food at reasonable prices.

On our last day I couldn't leave town without having the famous frito pie at the Five and Dime on the plaza. This is the original frito pie served in the bag -- it was invented right here in 1962 when the Five and Dime was a Woolworths. There is just something great about the combination of fritos, red chili and beans, grated cheese and onions that you stir up with your fork into a molten mass. Only $4.75. It's a soul-satisfying meal in a bag. Don't miss out on this when you visit Santa Fe.

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Standard Diner
320 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87102

Tecolote Cafe
1203 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87505

Cafe Pasqual's
121 Don Gaspar Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Oct 30, 2011
Amecameca in Southwest

Best Mexican in Eugene

I feel your pain thirtyeyes. There's sure a lot of really bad Mexican food out there. Mexicans cooking for gringos. Can't blame 'em. That's how you make money. You are welcome to drive 60 miles north and check out authentico Mexican food in Salem. Check out my posts. I posted today about tortas ahogadas. Believe me, it would be worth the trip to try one at Mercado San Francisco here. You could spend a day in Salem sampling the great Mexican food as I did with a friend not long ago. Try it.

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Mercado San Francisco
1584 Lancaster Dr NE, Salem, OR 97301

Aug 21, 2011
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Tortas Ahogadas in Salem

A specialty of Guadalajara is a sandwich called torta ahogada or "drowned sandwich." If you go to YouTube you will find a bunch of videos about them, mostly from Mexico. They are instructive because they show you how they are made. They consist of a bolillo or other crusty french-style bread or roll filled with roast pork (carnitas) and then "drowned" in a hot sauce and a thin tomato sauce. They arrive on your plate swimming in a pool of the sauces and you eat them with a knife and fork. Some of the recipes also call for a coating of refried beans on the bread and some are served with pickled onions.

It's hard to find a torta ahogada in the states. If you search for it on Chowhound, you'll find a few mentions of them in LA and other major cities. I didn't find any mention of them on the NW boards.

Hey, maybe you can only find them in the NW in Salem. There is a great one at Mercado San Francisco on Lancaster in E. Salem, not far from the Market St. exit off I-5. It's made on a bollillo. Mercado San Francisco is a meat market and a tortilleria in addition to serving food, so the meat is fresh made right here. They don't add the beans and the onions, avocado, lettuce and tomato are on the side. It was delicious! I savored every bite. Even though Mercado San Francisco sells beer to go, they don't have a liquor license so you'll have to settle for a Mexican soda. The torta was only $6. You can also get them to go. They have lots of other tortas, tacos for $1, and other dishes like costillas.

There is another place in Salem called Carneceria El Rodeo on Portland Rd. on the far northside that advertises tortas ahogadas. I'll have to get up there and see how theirs compares with Mercado San Francisco.

Hey, you NW Hounds, Salem is the go-to place for authentico Mexican food. Come on down and try all these great places we have here!

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Mercado San Francisco
1584 Lancaster Dr NE, Salem, OR 97301

Carneceria El Rodeo
3545 Portland Rd NE, Salem, OR 97301

Aug 21, 2011
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Best Mexican Food In Salem

Alas, oregoncook, Habanero has closed. It's really too bad because I don't know of another Guererro-style place in town. Their green posole was really outstanding. But the good news is that there is a great place on Lancaster called Azteca Bakery and Torteria, in the same strip as Star of India, that serves very interesting and inexpensive food from Oaxaca. I recommend the molotes. Another new place is El Rinconsito on Market St. where the specialty is tamales (pork or chicken) made fresh twice a week (and always on Wednesdays, I am told). As for your next stop, I recommend El Pollo Feliz on a nice warm day on the weekend. Drive by and make sure the smoker is smoking so your chicken is fresh off the grill. Plaza Morelia was doing some remodeling last time I was in there and they may not be done, but check them out too, before too long.

Aug 05, 2011
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Salem Authentico Tacos Report

OK, I'll say it. I think the best, most authentic, Mexican food in Oregon is in Salem. And there's lots of it.

My friend Sambamaster came down from Portand and we took my daughter with us on a Salem taco crawl. We started at the north end of town at Los Temos. The speciality here is birria de chivo (goat). We wanted to pace ourselves so we had one birria taco each. But you've got to get a cup of the "consome" (a soup made from the birria broth) to go with. And then we noticed a sign saying "uchepos hoy." Uchepos are an unusual tamale that's all corn. It's pretty sweet but is good with crema (Mexican sour cream) and green salsa. It was all good. We noticed someone eating another kind of triangular tamale wrapped in green corn husks, also not on the menu. Next time.

Next stop was Plaza Morelia in Keizer for some lamb tacos. My friend the Sambamaster went all out and got a lamb huarache instead. Again we ordered the consome that derives from the cooking juices. It wasn't as flavorful as the goat consome at Los Temos but it was satisfying.

Having had goat and lamb, it was time for pork. This is easier to find. There are a lot of Mexican meat markets in Salem that also sell tacos with the carnitas (pork cooked in its own fat) that they make in house. We tried two different places. Carneceria El Rodeo is way up on the northside. Their carnitas tacos are cheap ($1.50) and the meat is very fresh and good. It almost has a smoky flavor. Finally we went to La Concentida Carneceria behind the Taco Time on Lancaster. Their little carnitas tacos are only $1. They are small, but the flavor of the meat is outstanding. You can watch the pork cooking in the big pots while you are eating your tacos. The owner here is super-friendly and likes to hand out free samples if you show an interest in his food.

We thought about stopping by Los Panditas for their excellent tacos al pastor, but we were stuffed, so we called it a day. We just scratched the surface with great authentico tacos and other great Mexican food in Salem.

Salem has a lot of bad Mexican food too. The places that cook for gringos are predictable and not worth your time. But if you seek out the places where one out of five Salemites who hail from S. of the border eat, you'll get some great chow.

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Los Temos
7000 Portland Rd NE, Salem, OR 97305

Jun 26, 2011
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Where oh where is the real NY pizza?

Wow, it's great to know that Salem has something going for it! I think SFNYP is opening up a store in Portland. That would be a first -- that a Salem restaurant opens a branch in Stumptown!

Jun 24, 2011
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

ISO help!! Independence/Dallas/Salem/Monmouth

I remember when Chowhound was really about "chow" -- low cost, high quality grub with a distinctive local flair. All these suggestions are high end "fine dining." I'm surprised no one has suggested Orupa.

OK, end of rant. Having gotten that out of my system, and because you say you are up for $$-$$$, I'd recommend La Capitale (excellent reasonably priced French bistro food) or Andaluz right next door (excellent, authentic Spanish tapas).

BTW, the best real "chow" in Salem is at our many authentic Mexican eateries.

We'd love to have you dine in our fair city.

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La Capitale
508 State Street, Salem, OR 97301

Jun 24, 2011
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

San Cristobal de las Casas Report

Franz died in 1963 and Trudy died in 1993. I said they WERE an interesting couple.

May 12, 2011
Amecameca in Mexico

San Cristobal de las Casas Report

Na Balom is still going strong, but we didn't eat there. It seems to cater to tourists. You can probably get better food for less just eating in town. But I don't really know, so anyone can correct me. We did enjoy our visit there. Franz and Trudy were a really interesting couple!

May 10, 2011
Amecameca in Mexico

San Cristobal de las Casas Report

My family spent a week in San Cristobal in April and had lots of good chow. There are plenty of places to choose from, some which cater to the tourists and some which are more for the locals.

In the latter category is the Restaurante Normita, a small family-run place that has lots of the local specialties. We shared a plate for two of typical grilled meats (pork, beef, sausage) that was excellent (see photo below). A place that is popular with college students and other assorted lefties is TierrAdentro, again with a good assortment of local specialties. I had the tamale plate with three different kinds of local tamales. Adjacent to the restaurant are gift shops, including a couple selling Zapatista merchandise.

Adjacent to the Mercado de Artesinas y Dulces on Insurgentes (the main drag through town) are lots of humble eating places with outdoor seating. Be sure to try the stand with tamales de chipilin and ponche (photo below). Chipilin is an herb that is added to the masa in the tamale. Ponche is an unusual hot fruit punch spiked with “posh” a Mayan cane liquor. Look for a stand with rows of glasses with spoons in them. We had mixed fruit ponche (below) and fresh pineapple juice ponche served over bits of sweet bread, the traditional accompaniment.

When you go to the Mercado Municipal (the main market north of downtown) look for the sausage stalls with the local sausage. A specialty is butifarra, a cooked sausage you can buy there and eat on the spot (it's the gray-colored sausage in the photo below). Ask for it.

After a few days in Mexico consuming lots of meat, beans and tortillas, you might be craving your veggies. To remedy this, head to La Casa del Pan and the 100 peso all you can eat midday vegetarian buffet. This place, run by American Kippy Nigh, is a San Cristobal institution and for good reason. The food is delicious. For about $8 you can have fresh juice, soup, a variety of salads and cold vegetable dishes, an entree (a stuffed chayote squash the day we were there), and dessert. Look for Kippy and she will give you a discount on her cookbook and sign it for you.

The last place I can recommend is called Cochinita Pibil. It serves one thing -- what the owner told us was “Merida style” cochinita pibil. You can have it on a taco, a tostada, or by the pound. It was yummy.

There are many other great eating places in San Chris that we didn’t get to try. I promise you won’t go hungry there.

May 08, 2011
Amecameca in Mexico

Best Mexican Food In Salem

Well you got me there Mr. Bear. I have not eaten this anywhere in Salem. According to Wikipedia, arroz con pollo is not so much a Mexican dish (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arroz_co...). It says Puerto Rico claims it as their national dish. That might explain why you can't find it in Salem. The best chicken dish at a Salem restaurant is the grilled chicken at El Pollo Feliz on Silverton Rd. See the August 21 post above for a write-up and a picture. This is a glorified taco truck so they are not open all that much in the winter. In a month or two they should be going strong again. Check it out.

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El Pollo Feliz/Mariscos Playa Azul
3828 Silverton Rd NE, Salem, OR 97305

Mar 13, 2011
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Best Mexican Food In Salem

The number of authentic Mexican restaurants in Salem (to go with way too many inauthentic places) keeps growing. Habanero is the first place I have found that features dishes from the Pacific coast state of Guererro. It's a small place and a bit hard to find, but it's worth looking for. It's open for lunch and dinner. On our first trip we had the picaditas as an appetizer. They are like sopes, but smaller and without the meat. They were great. My dining partner tried the camarones en crema. The sauce (reminiscent of pipian) was plate-licking good! It was served with handmade corn tortillas, rice and black beans. I had a nice big bowl of posole verde, pork, avocado, and hominy soup with a broth thickened with pumpkin seeds. Excellente. We will be back to try other Guererro specialties like the pollo en mole verde and the chilaquiles. Other dishes you don't see elsewhere are the caldo de langostinos and something called aporriadillo. Our server (who might have been the owner) was super friendly and helpful and she liked talking about the specialties at Habanero. There are three kinds of homemade salsa including a habanero salsa. This place is at the corner of Center and Hawthorne in a little strip mall. It's about five minutes off I-5 if you are passing through town and want a different Mexican dining experience. Check it out.

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Habanero Restaurant
3330 Center St NE, Salem, OR 97301

Mar 12, 2011
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

El Tapatio, Cottage Grove

Thanks for the compliment on my Salem Mexican post, oregoncook. The lamb tacos at Plaza Morelia and the goat at Los Temos is worth the drive. Those are two great places for sure.

But I wanted to comment on this thread that when in Cottage Grove, it's gotta be Big Stuff Barbeque. I'm originally from Texas and I think I can say with some authority that it's some of the best BBQ you can find in Oregon. The two brothers who own the joint and make the que really take pride in their work. You can see and smell the meat smoker cooking away on the side of the building. The meat is fresh (not cooked days ago and warmed up like the meat at most Oregon BBQ places). I'm surprised no one has posted on Chowhound about Big Stuff for five years. It's still as good as ever. Whenever I find myself anywhere close to Cottage Grove I make sure I stop. If you're in a hurry you can get your que by the pound to go. Your car will smell great for days. What's good? Everything. They will be happy to give you meat samples if you ask. They're super friendly here. Check it out.

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Los Temos
7000 Portland Rd NE, Salem, OR 97305

Big Stuff Barbecue
733 E Main St, Cottage Grove, OR 97424

Feb 13, 2011
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Best Mexican Food In Salem

Some things have changed since my first post. El Turbo is closed and some of the taco trucks have moved on. But I have since discovered what might be one of the best choices for authentic Mexican. It's not quite in Salem, but almost. It's just over the border on River Road in Keizer. Plaza Morelia is next to impossible to see from the road (on your left) if you are heading north. It's at 3391 River Rd. right next to a Mexican meat market called El Jalapeno that is easier to spot. From the outside it looks like a small grocery, but the secreto is that in the back is a counter that serves up delicious food. There is plenty of seating in a little room on the side, but I like to sit at one of the tables near the counter so I can observe the action. Their specialties on the weekend are birria de chivo (baby goat) and barbacoa de borrego (lamb). I had the "plato" of the latter. For only $10 you get a nice big bowl of lamb soup (lamb broth with new potatoes and chick peas) and the meat on the side (you may need to ask for it on the side). They serve it up with all the hechos a mano tortillas you want, so we ate the soup and made tacos with the meat. There is a nice salsa bar with a good selection of homemade salsas, onions, cilantro, etc. It was delicious! I think I might have liked the soup even better than the lamb. The lamb comes with some fat and bones, etc. but you can avoid that when you make your tacos. The people who run this place are very nice and friendly and helpful to gringos. They have 99 cent carnitas tacos on weekdays, and excellent huaraches. They do a nice business and for good reason. The food is really great.

Jan 29, 2011
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Best Mexican Food In Salem

Yes, it's got to be Los Temos. Order the plato de birria and you won't be sorry.

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Los Temos
7000 Portland Rd NE, Salem, OR 97305

Dec 02, 2010
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Best Mexican Food In Salem

Los Temos has to be one of the most interesting eating experiences you can have in the Salem area. I went there again today to have the plato de birria (kid). They also have other meats like lengua (beef tongue) and chicken and even shrimp, but I wanted to try the goat again. One $10 plate fed three of us (we made tacos with the goat meat). You can have as many "hecho a mano" tacos as you want (we got a refill). They serve the broth from the goat stew on the side in a cup as a soup. It is delicious -- lots of spices are used in the cooking of the goat, but the clove flavor stands out. While we were there two mariachis wandered in and serenaded the diners ($5 a song). What fun! I hear they have a four person group on the weekends. This place may be a little intimidating for gringos the first time around, but give it a chance. The people who run this place are really friendly. When I was there today the young man at the counter spoke English. Los Temos is open 7 days a week from 9 to 5. I understand birria can be a breakfast food in Mexico, hence the early opening. I think they do their biggest business in the early afternoon, traditional comida time in Mexico. Try it.

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Los Temos
7000 Portland Rd NE, Salem, OR 97305

Nov 11, 2010
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Best Mexican Food In Salem

I posted a review of Los Temos to the Portland board -- probably not a good choice, except that they supposedly have a branch (Los Temos #2) on SE Powell in Portland. Here is the link to the post:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7379...

Based on one visit, I would definitely put Los Temos on the list of the best authentic Mexican restaurants in the Salem area (it's just north of town). I can't wait to go back.

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Los Temos
7000 Portland Rd NE, Salem, OR 97305

Oct 04, 2010
Amecameca in Pacific Northwest

Los Temos is the Place to Get Your Kid Tacos

Just north of Salem on Hwy 99, on the way to Brooks, if you slow down you will see a Mexican joint on the east side of the highway with lots of cars parked. Look for the sign with the baby goat. You've found the best kid tacos around.

Los Temos is a popular spot with large families and farm workers in the area. The specialty is birria de chivo, roast baby goat (kid). For $10 you get a big plate of birria, rice and beans and about six "hecho a mano" corn tortillas. There is a generous side of onion, chopped cilantro and limes. You make your own tacos. One plate is enough to feed two unless you are a big eater. They have homemade salsa, including a jar of chili oil (what is this? it's yummy!).

If you're not in the mood for kid tacos they also have pork and chicken. You can also get individual tacos for $2 each if you're not that hungry.

The birria is really good. Not goaty in the least. You need the sides and salsas to spice it up though.

A real plus is that they serve beer and have a good selection of Mexican beers for $3.

They apparently have a Portland location, Los Temos Tacqueria 2, at 11130 SE PowelI in Portland. You Portland hounds should check it out (couldn't find a post when I looked today). Maybe it's a truck. Los Temos #1 is a real restaurant. I consider it a real find.

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Los Temos
7000 Portland Rd NE, Salem, OR 97305

Oct 02, 2010
Amecameca in Metro Portland