2135 SE Division St., 232-2135, nuestra-cocina.com.
[TODO RECALL] In Portland’s quirky restaurant scene, you could be forgiven for getting strange ideas about Nuestra Cocina’s Mole Room. It’s dedicated not to a rodent but to the convoluted chili-based sauce popular throughout Mexico. Other than the earth tone-accented room, mole is not Nuestra Cocina’s specialty. In fact, no region or dish takes precedence at Nuestra Cocina—it’s Their Cuisine, and that’s that. They are husband-and-wife chefs Benjamin Gonzalez and Shannon Dooley-Gonzalez, and they have funneled the whole of Mexico’s cuisine into one menu, impressive considering the compromises are few. From northern Mexico’s grilled cactus to Puebla’s chile relleno to the Caribbean’s shrimp and barbacoa, the duo’s menu reads like a good guidebook: compact, comprehensive and convincing. Take a trip to any one of these dishes, and you won’t be disappointed. The flavors are the spiciness and delicate sweetness we’ve come to love about Mexican food, but the textures, freshness and beautiful plating are what set Nuestra Cocina apart.
Ideal meal: After some rich grilled cactus for $8, go pig or go home with charred, spiced and tender $18 pork chops.
Best deal: The $7 sopes de chorizo are worth their weight in oro.
Pro tip: The homemade tortillas are soft, delicious and rare in Portland, so be sure to take any extras home with you for tomorrow’s lunch.
5-10 pm Tuesday-Saturday. $$.