North PDX

A North Portland Essential: Mexican Food

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El Burrito Azteca (Credit: El Burrito Azteca)

Sometimes burrito cravings are simply irresistible. Luckily for University of Portland students, there are several options close to campus when these cravings strike. There are three restaurants within two miles or so where University of Portland students can get their fill of cheap, quick, and authentic Mexican food. King Burrito, El Burrito Azteca, and the taquería in Tienda Santa Cruz.

All three have unique characteristics and charm to entice students to choose them as their go-to burrito joint. All three are close enough to walk or bike to, in case students wish to work off some of the delicious calories they are about to consume.

King Burrito

King Burrito’s claim to fame is their huge burritos. The King Burrito, filled with steak, beans, salsa and a cheese-filled jalapeno is what cheap Mexican food should be. The rest of the menu is filled with many more types of delicious burritos and tacos.

That being said, King Burrito is definitely the greasiest of the three restaurants. The interior of the restaurant has artwork and toy dispensers. It is generally clean, although it can appear slightly dingy.

Burritos are around $4.50, and tacos are around $1.50. King Burrito is located at 2924 N Lombard Street, about two miles northeast of campus. Students can walk through Columbia Park Annex to shorten the trip just a bit. If you are driving, you can park behind the restaurant and come in through the back entrance.

Burrito Azteca

Recently renamed from “Boulevard Tacos,” El Burrito Azteca is located on Rosa Parks Way, just over two miles from campus. Students can walk along Willamette Boulevard, taking in the view of downtown, on their way to El Burrito Azteca.

Their burritos, while not as large as King Burritos’, still contain a large amount of food. They are also less greasy than ones from King Burrito. Their burritos range in price from $4.75 to $5.25 and their tacos are between $1.50 and $1.75.

El Burrito Azteca also has the only bar of the three restaurants. Several large televisions play whatever sports are on at the moment, allowing patrons to watch the game while enjoying some tacos and a margarita. Happy hour is from 3 to 6 pm and 9 to close Monday through Saturday for students who are of age.

The staff here is friendly and is quick to correct any errors in your order. The interior is the cleanest of the three locations.

Tienda Santa Cruz (Taquería)

The Taqueria is located in the back of Tienda Santa Cruz, at 8630 North Lombard Street. This provides students with the opportunity to browse the shelves of an authentic Mexican grocery store to see what interests them or to try something new.

Past the store, the Taqueria is  plain and no nonsense. Lunchroom style tables fill the room around a small counter. Prices fluctuate, and specials are added all the time, so be sure to spend a few minutes studying the menu behind the counter.

Service is generally slow here, as usually it seems like only one or two people are working at a time. Accordingly, try to visit at non-peak hours, or the restaurant will be packed with St. Johns locals waiting on their food.

Bonus:

The location of Tienda Santa Cruz in the heart of St. Johns means students have many other options to explore a unique Portland neighborhood on their trip for burritos. Suggestions include Cathedral Park, a movie at either St. Johns Twin Theater or McMenamins, or a walk over the bridge itself to see if any boats are sailing underneath it.

-Mark Roetcisoender  

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Categories: North PDX

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2 replies »

  1. Mark! You’re giving away our wonderful NoPo secrets!!! In all seriousness, solid piece. I especially liked the way you added in the bonus suggestions – a nice treat for those who took the time to read all the way through.

    Like

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