From the Heart of JALISCO

There’s nothing better than hanging on a Friday night with good friends and good food, except for the pesky question of where to find that good food. Someone’s on a budget, someone can’t eat dairy, or gluten, or meat, or cheese …. Kinda makes ya want to stay home. ¡Pero espera! One muy bien choice is Los Portales Mexican Grill, owned and operated by folks from the Mexican state of Jalisco.

Everybody loves a good taco and Los Portales makes them as they were meant to be: piled high with meat on two corn shells and no fussy toppings. Each order has three tacos ($9.50), served with rice and beans. You can get three of the same or mix it up. To immerse ourselves in the total Jalisco-inspired feel of Los Portales, we ordered the Diable, a combo of steak and spicy ground chorizo, carnitas, shredded pork and al pastor, tender pork with pineapple bits.

Hold on to your sombreros (also said to have originated in Jalisco), because these tacos are good, especially the carnitas. The shredded pork with bits of flavorful, well-seasoned fat melts in your mouth. These may be about my most favorite carnitas in town—so well spiced. I thought it had a cinnamon-y taste but the server told me they cook the meat down with good Mexican beer, slow and low! The Diable had that yum spicy quality—makes you keep going, despite the flames in your mouth. Our server said al pastor was a tad sweet because of the traditional pineapple; I alternated between the two and got a nice balanced flavor.

It’s not a complete experience unless fajitas are involved; you can get them in nacho format! We ordered traditional chicken ($11.99) and were pleased with the extra-large mountain of sizzling proportions, including hearty peppers and onions. The chicken is thinly sliced and has that perfect griddled flavor.

Vegetarian sinconizada ($8.35) or, as they call it, “grilled tortilla sandwich,” was a switch—it’s one extra-large tortilla folded quesadilla-style and stuffed to the hilt with goodies. Each bite delivers mushrooms, spinach, cheese, onions, tomatoes and chopped avocados. You can add a protein if you’d like, but it’s already bigger and messier than any hand-helds, so use silverware to get every morsel.

How to cool down? Margaritas! Los Portales has a wonderful secret: The margaritas were $2.75, not $4.75 as written; at least when we went. So happy hour is all day, forever. If you want go one step classier, get top shelf, but for $6.75, the slightly sweeter top shelf isn’t worth it. Stick with the house margaritas. After your first one or six, you won’t even notice the subtle difference! Tell your DD all about it as you’re poured in the cab.

Everything before us was hot and fresh and each ingredient was perfecto! Put Los Portales on your list of where to go—at the top.