To the uninitiated, Xico's menu may seem intimidating. What exactly are totopos and chilorio?

It turns out totopos are delicious corn chips—made from scratch with masa made from corn that undergoes the nixtamalization process on premises before being hand-pressed into tortillas and fried—drizzled with salsa and crema ($7).

Chilorio is pork belly fried in chili sauce, a speciality of Sinaloa now prized across Mexico, the country from which Xico (pronounced CHEE-koh) draws the inspiration for its upscale menu.

On a recent visit the salmon pozole satisfied every food craving, the slightly blackened filet perfectly cooked with a crisp surface that melted into a bed of juicy hominy. A side of greens, radishes and cabbage offered extra methods for sopping up the sauce as fellow diners fought over the masa dumplings in the chicken with yellow mole.

Xico's other great feature is its patio, a large and tastefully appointed space nestled between neighboring buildings which makes you feel like you're at a hip new spot in Mexico City.

GO: 3715 SE Division St., 503-548-6343, xicopdx.com. 5-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 5-11 pm Friday-Saturday. $$.

Eat: Try Monday night's chicken dinner for two ($20).

(Cait Pearson)
(Cait Pearson)

Drink: The margarita ($10) or the Cadillac margarita ($15), of course.

Most popular dish: The carnitas dinner is slow-roasted pork with veggies, salsa, beans and tortillas.

Noise level: 50/100. Perfectly reasonable, but not so quiet you can listen in on diners at other tables.

Expected wait: Usually none, though on busy nights, it could be 30 minutes to an hour if you don't have reservations.

Who you'll eat with: Groups celebrating special occasions, couples still trying to impress each other.

Year opened: 2012