Review: Mexicali Express (Beaverton)

Mexicali Express
12590 SW Canyon Road
Beaverton, Oregon 97005
Map It!
Ph: 503-643-3739
Hours: 9 a.m. to midnight daily
Website
Lunch money: $-$$
Rating: ★★★★☆

The Portland area certainly has a plethora of Mexican food options, but sometimes it seems very few of them are worth your hard earned dinero. In the heart of downtown Beaverton sits an almost DayGlo-colored painted building that advertises their video lottery machines. It’s not exactly the place you’d expect to find some of the tastiest Mexican food around…but it is.

Mexicali Express has actually been around for a couple of decades (they were originally located on West Burnside where Gaya Gaya Sushi is now). From my experience, local fast food places tend to diminish in quality over the years, get run out of business by the national chain behemoths or attempt to expand on their own.

Happily, Mexicali Express has remained almost exactly the same for the 20+ years I’ve been eating there, so I feel a little nostalgic every time I walk through the doors. The décor is FAR from fancy, and the relatively recent addition of a video lotto lounge doesn’t help—but you’re not coming here for haute cuisine; you’re coming here to nosh!

The menu is typical Mexican fast food: Tacos. Burritos. Nachos. Quesadillas. Fajitas. Enchiladas. You know the stuff. But this is no Taco Bell. The freshness and quality of the food is remarkable considering the slightly rundown location.

I almost always go with a burrito, a taco AND the Mexicali fries (which comes to about $6 total). I’m not usually a fry person, but there’s something special about those lightly seasoned potato discs that I can’t resist…especially dipped in ketchup. Yum!

Practically everyone I take to Mexicali mentions the tortilla chips and taco shells with delight—they’re light, crispy, and offer the perfect crunch. I always suggest ordering a side of chips and salsa or guacamole for your table as a starter. (Sorry, no free chips and salsa appetizer here.)

The food is full of flavor and seasoned well, but they do serve almost everything on the mild range of the spicy scale (of course, some items can be ordered with a more spicy sauce option). If you need that extra kick, they do offer an extensive fresh salsa bar with a boatload more options than you’ll find at your local Baja Fresh (that place is so bland and boring, right?).

Mexicali Express opens at 9 a.m. for breakfast (you can order breakfast burritos until 1 p.m.) and stays open until midnight daily. They also offer a convenient drive-thru. The service is fantastic, and I get the feeling that this is a family run operation because you tend to see the same faces behind the counter again and again.

Overall, this is the perfect place to hit up for a quick, fresh meal that won’t break your budget. Simple. Fresh. Fast. Delicious.

PROS:
– Fresh, fast food
– Very reasonable prices
– Fresh salsa bar
– Friendly service
– Open late and there’s a drive-thru

CONS:
– The video lottery area is a little weird
– The building is a bit of an eyesore

Mexicali Express on Urbanspoon

Review: Beard Papa’s (Beaverton)

Beard Papa’s
10500 NW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway
(Inside Uwajimaya Food Market)
Beaverton, Oregon 97005
Map It!
Ph: 503-924-1101
Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Video
Lunch Money: $
Rating: ★★★★½

I’m just going to make a modest prediction here: cream puffs are the new cupcakes! Yeah, I might be getting a little ahead of myself with this prediction, but at least at my house cream puffs are the creamy-crispy baked good of choice these days.

Part of the resurgence of cream puff popularity has to do with the arrival and expansion of Japan-based Beard Papa’s in the United States…and now the Portland area has a location, too!! Rejoice!

The first Portland-area Beard Papa’s opened in March inside the Uwajimaya Asian Food Market on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway (across the street from Target).

I’d been salivating for a couple weeks before I had the time to make it out to Beaverton for a taste, but it was worth the wait. Although, I did get there in the early evening and noticed that their last batch of puffs was quickly dwindling as the long line ahead of me placed their orders. (The guy in line ahead of me pulled out a $50 bill and I thought all chances of scoring some precious puff were lost. Alas, there were just enough left for me!)

Beard Papa’s offers a variety of puff selections to pick from: the original, the éclair, the Paris-Brest, the cookie crumb and the coco. After you pick your puffs, you have your choice of creamy custard fillings: vanilla bean, Belgian chocolate or the selection of the week. The filling of the week varies and range from strawberry to caramel to green tea.

Then stand back and watch as your puffs get plumped with that delicious creamy custard filling. They fill after you order to keep your puffs fresh, because nobody wants a soggy puff!

These fist-sized tasty treats certainly make a delightful snack, decadent breakfast or darn-good dessert. And Beard Papa’s cream puffs aren’t too dangerous for your wallet or your waistline. Each puff is currently $2.50 to $2.75 (with discounts on orders of 6 or 12) and contains about 220 calories.

Try one; you’ll be hooked!

PROS:
– Delicious treat that’s perfect for breakfast or dessert
– Very fresh and tasty
– Affordable indulgence

CONS:
– They do sell out of certain “puffs,” especially in the evening
– Currently only one location in the Portland area

Beard Papa's on Urbanspoon

Stumptown Profile: Beaverton Foods

Beaverton Foods
Website | Twitter | Facebook
By Sarah Keech
Photos by Matt Wong

If you’re anything like me, you’ve loved Beaver Brand mustards and horseradish products for a long time. But, did you know they’re all produced in the Portland area? Did you know the entire company came out of the trials and tribulations of a young mother just trying to survive the Great Depression?

I was recently invited to tour Beaverton Foods, and learning the history and visiting the spot where these quality products are made has certainly made me a lifelong fan…well, it really didn’t take too much convincing!

The History

Times were tight in 1929 in Beaverton, Oregon, so when Rose Biggi needed to put food on her family’s table, she became resourceful. She ground and bottled horseradish from her family’s farmland and traded it for local butcher’s meat to use in her spaghetti sauce.

A few years later, Rose had a chance meeting with Eve Meyer, the wife of Fred G. Meyer, who at the time was just opening up his first supermarket in downtown Portland. Rose began selling her horseradish at the new Fred Meyer store, which was no small feat as, at that time, traveling to downtown Portland from Beaverton was an all day journey and there were no paved roads. (And you thought travelling on Highway 26 was bad!)

Those small initial endeavors have evolved into what is now Beaverton Foods, the largest specialty condiment producer in the United States.

Rose’s son, Gene Biggi, now 83, is the current president and the driving force behind the company’s expansion in the condiment market, but growing this specialty company took many years and many, many taste tests to get to where it is now.

Gene initially expanded the business by creating the company’s first mustard, which all came about while he was on a date with his girlfriend at a Chinese food restaurant in Beaverton when he was only 19. Inspired by the flavor the restaurant’s hot mustard, Gene asked the chef how it was made and then set out to recreate the product in a more consumer-friendly manner. The resulting product, Hot Chinese Mustard, took two to three years for him to develop and perfect, and it can still be found in stores today.

With a keen eye for what his customers are looking for, Gene is also responsible for the first gourmet Sweet and Hot Mustard made in the U.S., and first Honey Mustard to be made and sold anywhere.

A constant innovator, Gene is credited as one of the first in the condiment marketplace to realize the importance of using plastic squeeze bottles instead of glass in the bottling process to ensure safety, freshness and ease of use for his customers.

The Company Today

More than 80 years and four generations later, the company remains loyal to its Washington County roots and business is thriving. Beaverton Foods is the corporate umbrella for many of the condiment brands you see in your grocery store and restaurants, including Beaver Brand and Inglehoffer. In fact, their products can be found in 98 percent of grocery stories in the U.S.

The business remains controlled by the Biggi family, with Gene’s son, Domonic, is the Executive Vice President and his grandson, Jeffrey, serves as the Food Service Manager.

Innovation and an eye for the future are still very important to their business. Some of their latest products to hit the market directly incorporate a growing food trend: bacon. But unlike similar bacon condiments (i.e., bacon mayonnaise), their products are healthier (low in fat, cholesterol and calories), yet the bacon flavor is bold.

Beaverton Foods is also taking on a new product line, authentic wasabi. In December 2010, the company purchased Pacific Farms of Florence to expand into the real wasabi market—which is very rare outside of Japan. With wasabi, the company added new equipment to their facility for processing and they hope to increase their wasabi sales as the national sushi trend continues to flourish.

The company employs about 80 people at their Hillsboro manufacturing plant, and the Biggis are pleased that even through the tough days of our recent recession they never had to lay anyone off.

The Biggi family and Beaverton Foods certainly exemplify Oregon’s pioneer spirit that hard work, ingenuity and innovation do pay off.

So let us know: What’s your favorite Beaverton Food product?

Review: Jin Wah Restaurant (Beaverton)

Jin Wah Restaurant
4021 SW 117th Avenue (across from Fred Meyer; near Beaverton TC)
Beaverton, OR 97005
Map It!
503-641-2852
Hours: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. (daily dim sum 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)
Website | Lunch money: $$$
Rating: ★★★☆☆

When we hear the text message alert on the iPhone go off before noon on a Saturday it only means one thing: Our pal Matt W. wants to go get food. Sure enough that was the situation over the weekend, so before we knew it we were out of our weekend loungewear (fave bright yellow PJ pants and a boyfriend-sized t-shirt) and headed to the ‘burbs (Beaverton, to be exact) for some dim sum.

Now this wasn’t our first venture into Cantonese small plate dining, but this was our first visit to Jin Wah Restaurant. We met up with Matt (who had already started digging into some dishes) and our other dining companion during the restaurant’s busy dim sum lunch hours. The place was packed and everyone looked like regulars…always a good sign!

Now here’s our very own personal problem when we go for dim sum: We can never figure out what is what on the cart! What kind of dumplings are those? What’s in that bun? Are those chicken feet?!?! Yeah, it’s not a world-ending issue, but it does take some time to figure out what’s what and dive into the tasty stuff.

Of course, with so many options to try it’s hard to pick something wrong…and if you do someone else at the table will likely happily inhale it.

We started with some turnip cake, a couple plates of various dumplings, some taro dumplings, spare ribs and, of course, the traditional tea. After that we ordered more dumplings, BBQ pork buns, potstickers and Phoenix claws (yep, that would be chicken feet!).

If that sounds like a lot, it WAS! We were stuffed! Continue reading Review: Jin Wah Restaurant (Beaverton)

Review: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Five Guys Burger and Fries
2606 SW Cedar Hills Boulevard
Beaverton, OR 97005
503-430-8748
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Rating: ★★★★½

 

Having lived in Washington, DC, for several years, I was already familiar with Five Guys and their delicious burgers and yummy fries. But when a friend mentioned the opening of Five Guys in Beaverton, I thought I heard her wrong. A Five Guys in Beaverton? How could that be? When I moved back to Oregon several years ago, I thought I would never experience a delicious Five Guys lunch again.

Sure enough, it was my beloved Five Guys! (They have been franchising the stores for a number of years now and there are more than 1000 stores across the U.S.) So we hopped in the car and headed to the brand new suburban strip mall location.

The line was pretty long and the wait for our order was about 10 minutes, but once we had our scrumptious burgers and a regular-sized order of Cajun fries we were in hamburger heaven. Continue reading Review: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Stumptown Lunch News: Five Guys opens in Cedar Hills

The Lunch Lady lived in the DC-area for more than five years, and Five Guys Burgers and Fries was the local burger joint of legend. So we were THRILLED today when our dear friend Shannon mentioned that Five Guys just opened their first Oregon location on Monday.

The Five Guys menu is simple enough: burgers, fries and hot dogs. But what else do you really need, right?

Five Guys is located at Walker Center at 2606 Cedar Hills Boulevard in Beaverton.

We are going to have to check it out this weekend!!

Review: Pastini Pastaria

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Pastini Pastaria
(Six locations in the Portland area)
Map It!
Rating: ★★★½☆

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Pastini Pastaria is pretty much my go-to spot for any sort of family or friend function that entails a large group going out to a restaurant. Sure, some people might consider it Portland’s local version of Olive Garden, but the food is consistently good (even if it is a little on the bland side) and there is something on the menu for everyone-even those picky eaters and vegetarians.

What I love about Pastini is that they offer an excellent variety of pasta, from capellini to ziti and everything in between! They even offer whole wheat pasta, which is typically what I order. They have just about every combination of delectable pasta dishes, from the simple spaghetti agli e olio (the classic with sautéed garlic, olive oil, basil and parmesan) to the more decedent baked manicotti (filled with beef, pork, ricotta and spinach, then baked with alfredo sauce and marinara). All pasta dishes are served with the equally delicious ciabatta bread from Pearl Bakery. Continue reading Review: Pastini Pastaria