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Restaurants & Bars

[PDX] La Calaca Comelona in its new digs...

Nick | Jan 31, 200309:44 PM

I hadn't been to La Calaca since they moved. In fact, it took this message board for me to discover their new location. Thank you.

They have a variety of what would be considered antojitos, tostadas, tacos, quesadillas, etc. I did get one taco de carnitas. It was tasty, moist and moderately flavorful (a little spendy at $2.50).

However, their emphasis now that they're dinner only seems to have changed, at least from what I remember. They have a long list of relatively expensive specialty dishes, moles and the like. Most approach $20, and nearly all fall between $15 and $20. That puts them in competition with Cafe Azul for price.

I had the mole with blackberries, a mole negro with chicken and blackberries, served with rice and tortillas. It was pretty tasty. I would prefer it a bit spicier, but it was good. I might suggest that they hold it (at least with the blackberries) as a seasonal item. The blackberries seemed a bit flat. It was also served with pear slices. $20.

My wife had what I think was a special, empenada de pescado. It was pretty tasty and I'm not much of a fish person. The empenada was crisp and flaky and the fish didn't have an off taste whatsoever. It was served with a pico de gallo and rice. It was a pretty good sized piece of fish. I think it was about $17. She also got one of their aguas, cactus and orange, I think. It was interesting and decent. A couple bucks.

The still have what they call their "Grilled Dinners" at $14 each, which are what I remember them best for. These are what I refer to as Mexican stir-frys which cheese, onions, peppers, and usually some sort of meat.

I saw several other people get theirs and was interested to see that the Chile en Nogada they serve ($20) looked just like the one I had in Mexico City and the one I make at home (thought the one I had in DF was $7 and about 3 times the size). It's seasonal (probably because pomegranates are a winter fruit), so I'd suggest trying it unless you want to pay me to make it for you.

The place still has all the character the last one had with more tables and less drafts.

The food is good. I don't know that their specialties are as good as Cafe Azul's entrees, though. The side dishes could definitely use some refinement. But there aren't a lot of options for true Mexican food, especially authentic Mexican that's good, and La Calaca definitely provides that.

Hopefully they'll work on their cost ratios and realize they can probably charge $15 or less for their moles and pack in a lot more people that way. They weren't dead, but it was Friday at 6:30 and they hadn't filled up. Compare that to Esparza's, Pambiche, or even Cafe Azul.

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