Some of Portland's most vital Mexican communities lie beyond 120th Avenue and extend into Gresham, where a wealth of taco trucks serve the communities whose food they cook. I spent the past month trying to eat at all the taco trucks, carts, tiendas, shacks, supermercados, carnicerias and flea markets at the edges of Portland and Gresham. The finest rank among my favorite tacos anywhere in Oregon. Here are the eight best.
Southeast 148th Avenue and Stark Street, 503-953-9305. Lunch and dinner Thursday-Monday.
In the parking lot of a tire shop, Jose Graciano and his son serve the best tacos I've had anywhere in Portland. Graciano's meats are masterful from the top to the bottom of the menu. Hard-to-perfect meats like delicate lengua (tongue) and cabeza (beef head) are gently seared and spiced to perfection, and the asada is booming with beef flavor. $. Best overall tacos in Portland, best lengua, best chorizo, best cabeza, best escabeche.
193rd Avenue and East Burnside Street, Gresham, 971-212-8021. Lunch-late Friday, breakfast-late Saturday-Sunday.
Order a rich, light-yellow, real-vanilla agua fresca that's like the liquid essence of ice cream and summer itself, while eating on a picnic table in the shade of an enormous oak tree, and you've got one of the singular dining experiences in Portland, except that it's Gresham. $. Best overall tacos in Gresham, best flat-top carnitas, best house tortillas, best birria, best salsa verde.
Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon
16223 NE Glisan St., 503-255-4356. Breakfast-dinner daily.
If you go west, you go to Taqueria Hermanos Ochoa's. And if you go east, you go here, to the back of a little grocery store, where Lucy de Leon serves magical guisados and barbacoa and pollo asada, with perfect housemade tortillas, at prices that seem too cheap. $. Best pollo, best lettuce salsa.
13116 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-724-3759.
Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday, lunch Sunday. $. Best cochinita pibil, best salsa roja.
Taqueria Mi Mole
18488 E Burnside St., Gresham, 503-912-1473. Lunch and dinner daily. $. Best asada.
Mi Pueblo Taqueria
17466 SE Division St., 503-760-3666. Breakfast-dinner daily. $. Best tripas.
12051 SE Stark St., 503-473-7066. Dinner-late Monday-Saturday. $. Best pastor, best buche, best late night.
Tacos el Buda at the Oregon Flea Market
18340 SE Stark St., Gresham. Open Saturday-Sunday. $. Best barbacoa.