Getting back to the food surveys. Should be able to put out another Vietnamese survey next week (and found a real gem, too).
Decided to do Vancouver since I think it has an area among the best three in PDX for taqueria-level Mexican (Hillsboro and Woodburn, if you can count the latter in PDX, being the other two). What solidified it was when Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon opened a second, nearly as good, location on Fourth Plain where the other good Mexican places are. I'm glad this gives me an opportunity to cover de Leon. I still can't find enough good taquerias in Gresham to warrant a survey.
Most of these places are within about half a mile of each other and I have a hard time just stopping at one of them. I often use Fourth Plain as a "scenic" (or should I say "gustatory") route on my way to I-5.
(See link below for more info and pictures.)
* Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon: The specialty are the Mexican stews which you can buy by the pound or as part of a platter. They're rich, meaty, spicy and deep with flavor. Several rotate and I'm always eager to see what new ones there might be. They also make some nice carnitas and tamales, and great beans. The tortillas are commercial quality, but fresh. They steam whole heads of cows for their barbacoa. They also have some brilliant salsas.
* Poncho's al Pastor: As the name suggests, their specialty is al pastor, the Lebanese-inspired spit-roasted pork which is then sauteed with caramelly onions. And theirs is about perfect. Great pineapple-based marinade and it's always moist and wonderful. Pay 25 cents extra for the hand made tortillas. Soups and other taco fillings are quite good as well, but the al pastor is a must. Some of the best I've had anywhere, even in the home of the dish, Puebla, Mexico.
* Don Paco: Formerly La Michoacana, they've apparently changed ownership, or at least their name, but the menu and cooks seem to remain. And that's the important part. Their executions are always better than the average taqueria, but the specials are always what I look for first. I really enjoy their tamales de elote (fresh corn tamales) which they only make in the summer. They often have guisos as well. The costillas en salsa roja (ribs in red sauce) sells out quickly, but should be tried if available. If they have empenadas, they're a must.
* Taqueria Colima: Caught my eye with the proclamation "tortillas hechas a mano". They take pride in their tortillas and they take pride in what goes in them. All the usual taco fillings are prepared well. They also have a large number of specials each day on brightly colored hand-written signs. They offer birria both wet and dry and usually have a mole.