Review: Mexicali Express (Beaverton)

Mexicali Express
12590 SW Canyon Road
Beaverton, Oregon 97005
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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

HH Review: On Deck Sports Bar & Grill


On Deck Sports Bar & Grill
910 NW 14th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209
503-227-7020
Business Hours: M-Th 11 a.m.-11 p.m., F/Sat 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Sun 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Happy Hour: M-F 3:30-6:30 and 9:30-close, Sat/Sun 9-close
Website
Map It!
Twitter: @ondeckpdx
Rating: ★★★★☆


While the ever popular On Deck Sports Bar and Grill is open daily for lunch, we find ourselves gravitating to the smartly decked out Pearl District hangout for happy hour—especially now that summertime weather is gently breezing in and the cold, rain and wind is headed out (at least we hope).

Whether it’s a sunny day just chillin’ at one of the spacious tables on their sprawling patio or catching an afternoon Major League Baseball game or an international soccer match, the happy hour food and drink specials are even more of an incentive to come out and cheer on your favorite team.

First and foremost, On Deck is about sports—lots of sports. If you’re looking for somewhere to catch “the BIG game” or even some of the more obscure sporting events, On Deck is a great place to gather. There are 25 flat screens all over the bar and a 68” plasma TV, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to catch all the action.

Monday through Friday On Deck offers happy hour from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., and then again from 9:30 p.m. to close. On Saturday and Sunday happy hour is from 9 p.m. to close. Food prices range from $2 to $5, and there are plenty of options to choose from. Drink specials range from $2.75 domestic pints to $3.50 well drinks to $5 Captain & Cokes. Continue reading HH Review: On Deck Sports Bar & Grill

Review: Billy Heartbeats

Billy Heartbeats
(Lloyd Center Mall)
2039 Lloyd Center
Portland, OR 97204
503-288-6010
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Rating: ★★★½☆

The conversation usually starts like this: “I want to get a malt,” he says.

Lunch Lady: Rolling my eyes because I know where this is going.

Him: “Let’s go to that diner place at Lloyd Center.”

LL: “You always say you want to go there to get a malt and then you never order one.”

Him: “But they also have real cherry Coke.”

LL: “Fine, whatever. Let’s go then.”

Yes, that is exactly how I end up a Billy Heartbeats every single time. It’s not that I have anything against the Johnny Rocket’s knock-off, but I feel like I get tricked into going.

To be honest, Billy Heartbeats isn’t bad at all, and it’s certainly better than most of the other greasy, bland food court options at Lloyd Center, although I am always tempted by Hot Dog on a Stick.

I typically indulge in the cheeseburger delux, which is what you’d expect—a hearty cheeseburger with fresh toppings, toasty bun and a mountain of very fried fries. Continue reading Review: Billy Heartbeats

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: Fire on the Mountain (East Burnside)

Fire on the Mountain
1708 East Burnside
Portland, Oregon 97214
503-230-9464
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Rating: ★★★★½

Wings, oh, lovely wings! Who doesn’t love a great wings place, right? Sure, you could trek out to the lone Hooters left in Oregon at Jantzen Beach, but for a great local wings place, you really should visit Fire on the Mountain—which now has two locations. Not only are the wings great, but the selection of sauces is outstanding.

Portland was a little behind the wings trend for years and years, and Fire on the Mountain’s initial location on North Interstate was really the first GOOD wing-specializing place in town (seriously, you can’t count Hooters, puh-lease) when they opened up in 2005. The original location is teeny-tiny, so if you go be prepared to wait for a table or just order take-out. The new East Burnside location is larger and very airy, but it’s also known to fill up fast during lunchtime.

When you approach the counter to give your order, you can actually taste-test the sauces on small pieces of celery. This is a great way to try out any sauces you might usually be afraid to try on an entire order of wings, so go ahead, dip that celery stick in “El-Jefe” and let the burning sensation begin. Continue reading Review: Fire on the Mountain (East Burnside)

HH Review: Tiger Bar

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Tiger Bar
317 NW Broadway
Portland, Oregon 97209
(503) 222-7297
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Rating: ★★★★½

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The first time I visited Tiger Bar also happened to be the night of SantaCon, so I won’t mention all the debauchery that I saw go down there that night. Let’s just say the patrons got to see a lot more drunken Santa skin than they probably wanted to….

That aside, I decided to try the place again—this time for happy hour with friends—and my opinion about the place changed completely. We wandered in and took a seat in one of the large, cozy booths near the back of the bar. Due to my first impression, I was expecting typical greasy bar grub.

But one look at their mouth-watering happy hour menu, and I knew the place was doing something right. During happy hour (4 to 8 p.m. daily), Tiger Bar offers absolutely delicious food at nicely reduced prices—the best deal is the burger/Gardenburger or teriyaki chicken sandwich for only $5 (add $1 for cheese) and they come with my beloved sweet potato fries or a salad! Continue reading HH Review: Tiger Bar

HH Review: Henry’s 12 Street Tavern

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Henry’s 12th Street Tavern
10 NW 12th Street
Portland, OR
503-227-5320
* Happy hour runs daily from 3 to 6 pm
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Rating: ★★★☆☆

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OK, Henry’s has a great happy hour menu, but it’s almost too much trouble finding a seat to even bother going! I can understand the mad rush at Portland City Grill (which is also owned by Pacific Coast Restaurants), but I get so sick and tired of walking that endless circle around the bar at Henry’s looking for a free table or an even less comfortable place at the bar.

Honestly, my friends and I have left without waiting numerous times, because, like PCG, they don’t have any organized way of getting paying customers a table as people leave. Yes, I understand first come, first serve, but this is just chaos without the great view or the ambiance of PCG. Continue reading HH Review: Henry’s 12 Street Tavern

Review: Virginia Café

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Virginia Café
NEW ADDRESS: 820 SW 10th Avenue
Portland, OR
503-227-0033
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Rating: ★★★★☆

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[Editor’s Note: It’s official, the Virginia Cafe has moved to 820 SW 10th Avenue, just across from the library. We are planning to check out the new digs and let you know what we think very soon!]

Over the weekend I had probably my last lunch at the Virginia Café at its current location on SW Park Avenue. You see, just over a year ago the landmark restaurant and bar announced they would have to close down or move because the building within which they are housed is going to be torn down to become yet another shiny retail/condo high-rise. Luckily, the owners have found a new location for VC, but now it’s time to say goodbye to the old dwelling.

Sure, the place itself is nothing fancy; the décor is kitschy, the upstairs bathroom is pretty scary and nonsmokers curse the free-for-all smoking policy (that will change in the new location as they will be going non-smoking).

But there is something undeniably charming, cozy and Old Portland about the location they are vacating. Where else hipsters mix with preppy downtown workers mix with 50-somethings without batting an eye? If Pioneer Courthouse Square is Portland’s “living room” then VC is Portland’s den with a wet bar. Continue reading Review: Virginia Café

Review: Giant Drive-In

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Giant Drive-In
15840 Boones Ferry Road
Lake Oswego, OR
503-636-0255
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Rating: ★★★★☆

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Burger lovers rejoice!

Giant Drive-In has been a Lake Oswego staple for decades, and it’s easy to see why this little burger joint has been able to last so long: They’ve got great burgers. Sure, you can go in for just a standard burger with the typical fixings, but the real find at Giant is their claim to fame, their specialty burgers.

Best known for The Filler (which the owner jokingly referred to as the “college student special”), it comes packed with the works, but other mouth-watering options include Blue Cheese, Teriyaki, Hawaiian, Jalapeno, Ranch burgers and many more. If you are a first-time Giant visitor don’t fret over all the options, just look for the specialty burger descriptions listed above the cash register. Each burger is served on a delicious toasted bun and with fresh toppings. Continue reading Review: Giant Drive-In