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

NEW Stumptown Lunch Contest!

OK, you know we love Five Guys Burgers and Fries, right? Did you know that all across the country Five Guys uses some of the quotes from our review on their in-store marketing displays? Mind you, we’re not in all of their restaurants, but we are in a lot of them. Like here. Here (in a ShayTards video!). Here. And here. So cool!

Here’s your mission: Find one of our signs in a Five Guys, take a picture of yourself and the sign, then tweet it (@stumptownlunch) or email it (sarah@stumptownlunch.com) to us. Easy, right?!

The first person to do so will win a $20 Five Guys gift card, a $10 iTunes gift card and a few other nifty Stumptown-centric items!

Just DO IT…we know you want to!

Good luck!

Hint: This is what you’re looking for….

Stumptown Lunch News: Goodbye Chili’s

On Friday, a friend and I decided to make a dent in his Chili’s gift card (a recent birthday present, and one of his favorite places to eat). We drove over to the Lake Oswego location to grab a quick bite only to find an empty parking lot.Chili’s was closed. Seal up and completely erased of any Chili’s identifying markers.

What? Just a few weeks ago the Internet was packed with ads touting their new Bottomless Express Lunch.

I had heard that Chili’s was in financial trouble, but didn’t realize that they boarded up four Portland locations almost a month ago. So if you have a Chili’s gift card you’re going to have to head over to Clackamas Town Center–the only Chili’s still open in the entire Portland area.