Por Qué No
A couple of years ago I visited a dear old friend who lives in the laid back little fishing and windsurfing village of La Ventana, Mexico. My dear old friend is a bit of a trouble magnet, you might say, and over the course of the week I spent there, I was chased through the streets of nearby La Paz by a deranged cabbie, nearly arrested by the federales, proposed to by a mysogynistic Mexican poet, stung by a jellyfish, and on the last night the ATV I was riding went straight off a cliff, bounced off a highway, and rolled onto me. But as I lay on the table at the doctor’s office in La Ventana getting a massive shot of painkiller in my heinie and reflecting on my adventure-packed visit, all the near death experiences faded away and all I could remember were…the tacos.
But as I lay on the table at the doctor’s office in La Ventana getting a massive shot of painkiller in my heinie and reflecting on my adventure-packed visit, all the near death experiences faded away and all I could remember were…the tacos.
Soft warm handmade tortillas, salty smoky and enthusiastically spiced grilled meats, fish, and prawns, just-made salsa, a sprinkling of freshly diced onion and cilantro, and the final squirt of tart juice from the lime wedges that came in a little black plastic bowl alongside my tacos and ice cold Pacifico or Coca Cola (the real kind, in the bottle). I’d like to think it was the memory of those tacos that pulled me back from the brink of death. That’s how powerful the magic of a really good taco can be.
And when I need a taco fix with some feel-good Mexican atmosphere here in Portland, I head to Por Qué No—the festive terracotta and aqua blue façades and vividly colored kitsch all over the walls; the bustling kitchen and equally energetic dining room filled with mouthwatering smells, cold Mexican beers, big jars of fresh juices and horchata, and gracious staff always take me back to those happy times spent in little Mexican taco shacks. I dig into the plastic basket filled with deliciously fresh fish and wild shrimp tacos and eat great big gobs of fresh guacamole and cebiche, sip an icy beer, and reminisce about the time I lost five of my nine lives in Mexico. Viva la Por Qué No!
Owner: Bryan Steelman
Atmosphere: Bright colors, happy laid-back people, festive food, a rollicking good taco time
Outdoor seating: Yes, plenty of sidewalk tables at both locations, and the Southeast location has a lovely patio out back for sunbathing if you can’t make it to a Mexican beach any time soon
Best Seat: I love sitting in the tiny little window bar in the North location, or the patio at the Hawthorne restaurant
Noise Level: Energetic - Boisterous
Dress Code: Casual, aka your Baja best
Bring the Kids: Yes
Bathrooms: Yes, in the back…you have to walk through the kitchen at the North Portland location to get there but the picture of the bathroom saint is worth it.
Parking: Free and fairly easy to find on surrounding streets for both locations
Cocktails: Margaritas made with Sauza Blanco tequila and fresh squeezed juices ($6-$8.50), Rum with Agua Frescas ($6.50), Rum-spiked Horchata Borracha ($6), Sangria ($5)
Beer: Tecate, Pacifico, Negra Modelo, Modelo Especiale ($2.50-$3); Pabst, Sierra Nevada, Seasonal Draft ($2-$3.50)
Wine: Yes, a few whites and reds, and house sangria
Teetotalers: Aguas frescas, hibiscus flower tea, horchata, Jarritos sodas, Mexican Coca Cola & sodas
Ideal Meal: Guacamole and salsa with chips, cebiche, carnitas y carne asada y pescado tacos, a refreshing Sol Pop to finish
Vegetarian Friendly: Yes
Vegan Friendly: Yes
Good for the following occasions: Out With Friends, Kids Included, Family Meal, Dining Alfresco
Group/Private Party Details: Por Qué No caters, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for a pricing list or call for more information.
Deals: Tuesday happy hour goes from 3pm to close!