1625 NE Killingsworth St.
La Taq, the tex-mex bar/taqueria next to Podnah's, is now open. I went in last night for a late dinner with a friend from Austin who's always looking for Texan food in Portland.
It was far too dark to take pictures of anything, unfortunately. Here's the menu, from memory:
Tacos: brisket, carne asada, carnitas, chorizo, shrimp, avocado, chanterelle
Pork tamales, queso (with chorizo or green chile), rice & beans, escabeche, a few more small things
The queso was fine. It had a clumpy appearance that made my friend go "uh oh", but it was fairly smooth once we dug in. (He hated the queso Podnah's once had, saying it was gritty.)
The tamales were very nice. Moist and liberally stuffed with shredded pork, reminiscent of MMM's. Like the queso and some of the tacos, they were served topped with pico de gallo, which reminded me that, oh right, I don't like pico de gallo. I'll take salsa over it any day.
My friend got the rice and beans, and he loved them. He said he'd just order those and a bunch of tortillas next time. The beans looked shiny and saucy, the way I like them.
Carne asada and carnitas tacos were good—no surprise there. Shrimp taco was also better than the average. Chanterelle taco was boring—I'll stop ordering mushroom tacos (except at MMM) if people are going to just sauté mushrooms and put them on a tortilla. (Corazon, grrr.)
The tortillas are handmade, small, and thick (I like that). They tasted fresh, though a few of mine were a bit parched and cracking—they had probably not puffed up.
The chips are made with these tortillas, and they were hot when I got them, though a bit hard/dry. I don't know enough about chip-frying to know why that would be the case.
The escabeche was a nicely pickled mix of green chiles, onions, carrots, garlic, and potatoes. It was way too hot for my heat tolerance, but before it destroyed my lips, it tasted good.
The space is small, with a patio that'll probably get busy during the sunny season. It feels more like a bar than a restaurant. Given that Beaker & Flask's Kevin Ludwig is at the bar, this will sound like heresy, but: neither my friend nor I liked our cocktails much. We both independently concluded they were weak and boring. I loved B&F, so who knows, maybe they were off, or maybe we were off.
If this sounds like a mixed experience, it was. Nothing was "bad", but the limited size of the menu (and the fact that it doesn't really include anything I can't get at a bunch of other places) means I'll probably only come back if someone else badly wants to go.