Recently, El Sombrero bought one of my favorite little taquerias in Portland proper: La Iguana Feliz. El Sombrero is one of the two restaurants that sit on each side of it. I think this is the third owner since I've been going there.
I've been driving by waiting for them to reopen. Finally today, they were.
The menu has most of the items it always did: tacos, caldos, sopes, etc. Plus more Mexican-American.
I got items I'd had before: taco de birria de chivo, taco de asada, taco de carnitas, plus a sope with al pastor.
They brought me out some chips and salsa. It wasn't the same chips and salsa they used to make. The chips were yellow corn rather than white and the salsa was a more typical tomato-based salsa. However, it was a pretty good one obviously made with roasted tomatoes and with a nice balance of flavors. The chips were freshly fried, but I still prefer the white corn.
The sope came first. The masa disc appeared to be house made, but a little thick and moist. Still good and piled high with beans, meat, lettuce, cheese, avocado, etc. Pretty darn good.
The tacos came next. I always thought their birria and asada were among the best in town. The birria always had lots of flavor and were very tender. The asada had always been nicely charred, but still moist inside. And actually, I think everything was better than it used to be. The birria was really tasty, the asada probably more charred than before, but perhaps less moist. The carnitas used to have a very good flavor, but not the nice crispiness. This was more traditional, but not the quality of an Ochoa or Salvador's or de Leon. Also, a lot of fat in there. I might ask them for more carne in the future. They still don't make their own tortillas.
They did bring out their little platter of radishes, taqueria style guacamole, and chile de arbol salsa. The recipes were a little different, I think, but nearly as good, maybe better to some people.
They do still have the same cook that I think has been there through all the changes.
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