Wednesday, May 28, 2014

La Panza Cafe

La Panza Cafe, found near SE 26th Avenue and Division St. in Portland, Oregon, serves food from New Mexico.

I first found out about this place three weeks ago. Although there have been other places in the past (namely Pepper Box) that have served New Mexican cuisine, very few places overall have brought real New Mexico red and green chile to Portland. The panda was quite ecstatic when discovering that the owner was from Santa Fe.

I first went to check out the breakfast menu.

The menu has a lot of the familiar dishes one might find in the Southwest. The best part to me: having New Mexico green chile and red chile on the menu. If you can't decide, get both (dubbed "Christmas" style). At this time of year, the chiles are shipped frozen. It'll be interesting if they try to get the fresh NM chiles when pod season takes off.

I started my fluffy panda adventure with Mexican hot chocolate ($4). Rich and delicious, fresh whipped cream on top.

Popular breakfast dishes include the Breakfast Burrito ($8.95 base price), Huevos Rancheros ($10.25), and Blue Corn Enchiladas ($10.25).

After much thought, I got the breakfast burrito, Christmas style, with bacon. Hey, bacon makes everything better. The breakfast burrito otherwise just contains scrambled eggs and cheese. Pinto beans and hash browns on the side. Very good, colorful presentation.

The chef did an awesome job on the meat crack, crispy and delicious. Frankly, I'm more of a green chile fan, but both chile sauces were great.

I then returned the next day for lunch.

The lunch menu includes stuffed sopaipillas and the ever-popular green chile cheeseburger. Yes, please.

People around me feasted on posole and a side of sopaipillas. The latter looked like large pillows of dough, much like oversized beignets (without the powdered sugar).

I got the Green Chile Cheeseburger ($10.95). The beef is 100% ground chuck and cooked to your liking (for me, it was cooked medium). The burger has the usual toppings and uses a sesame seed bun. The burger comes with a side of fries.

The burger is served open-faced so that the mound of green chiles stare right at you. People around me raved about the burger and wanted one of their own. Pandas love to hypnotize others with food porn.

Excellent burger. The beef patty was wonderfully delicate overall and extremely juicy. The bun felt like it had been toasted ever so slightly, a nice plus if so. In hindsight, I probably would have asked for mustard or hot sauce to bring everything together.

The fries were OK. Nice golden brown, but limp and only slightly crunchy. Perhaps the frying oil needed to be hotter?

The coffee here is also very good. It's $3, but free refills. The panda got his share of liquid caffeine and walked out very energetic.

Dessert offerings include a Sopaipilla Sundae(?!), Tres Leches Cake, and evil blissful death properly called "El Diablo Chocolate Cake."

I'm happy we have another New Mexican spot in PDX. Need more of these places! 8.5/10

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