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Mexican Food in Portland: El Mezcal

On our way back into Portland after the weekend at Mt Bachelor, Suzanne and I finally found a Mexican restaurant worth reporting about. I was driving, and we were coming into town on Powell Blvd, and had not yet crossed the I-205. I saw a little "Mexican Mall" complete with signage in Spanish, fluttering banners and a big heap of old appliances out front. I was hungry and pulled right in.

The place is called El Mescal and inside there is a mural of a Mexican family working on an agave farm. In the mural the son is standing in a wagon where the agave hearts are piled, the father is using a long tool to whack the leaves off the agaves that are growing in rows on his desert farm, and the wife is making tortillas over a fire. There was no one in there when we came in, and the music was turned up loud. One TV screen was playing and it appeared that it was "Mexican MTV" with every single song being about sex with some babe that was strutting on the TV screen.

Then there was someone in the bathroom. I really needed to go, after driving alll afternoon. I sat back down, then went and knocked again. No one came out. I asked the lady who had taken our order. She said someone was in there. I waited. Finally he came out and slipped into the back without my getting to see him. Mexican kids know how to be invisible to gringos.

We stuck with it, and the food was good. The chips were greasy and crisp as they are supposed to be, the salsa was good, the food was HOT when it came out, and delicious. The margaritas were limey and strong enough. All in all, this Mexican place was better than most regular roadside Mexican food that you might find in Arizona or New Mexico. The people were pleasant and kind. The sun was shining. Maybe that's why we found this place. The sun was shining.

RATING with system as devised on 3/7/08
We are sticklers!
1) free hot crisp chips (1)
2) free with choices of salsa, one of which should be HOT (.75: only 1 kind but it was good)
3) margarita with tequila and lime in it, no high fructose corn syrup (1)
4) food and plate temperature sizzling hot (1)
5) menu: simple, fresh, authentic, not "creative" (1)
6) good sauces/beans/tortillas (1)
7) good entrees (1 enchiladas, relleno, YUM)
8) reasonable price (1)
9) pleasant space, warmth colors, lighting, smells, service, etc. (.75 a little jarring but MexiTV but totally authentic)
10) "Sopapilla o' tortilla?" (0)

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