Restaurant Guide 2013: Amelia's

105 NE 4th Ave., Hillsboro, 615-0191,

[MEJICANO MAGNIFICO] If you wander blindly into Hillsboro looking for great Mexican food, you're likely to leave disappointed. True, "Hillsburrito" has a tight concentration of authentic taquerias serving lengua and cabeza, but that's no reason to drive until you can almost smell saltwater. On the other hand, Portland proper lacks anything like Amelia's, a family restaurant with slow-roasted pork, goat, lamb and beef in deeply satisfying sauces. Amelia's advertises itself as "Mexican fine dining" to stand apart from the carniceria counters, though there's no hint of pretension in this cozy Main Street nook with bright yellow walls, a soundtrack of Julio Iglesias-style crooning and eye-popping tableware. (Amelia is from Guanajuato, which is known for its elaborate ceramics.) Tortillas are made from masa so fresh you can still taste the husk, moles are elaborately seasoned, and an Aztec soup with gummy tortilla strips, shredded chicken and avocado chunks in a spicy brown broth will warm you right down to the alma. Don't leave without trying dessert tamales made with fresh fruit—pineapple and strawberry on our visit—that are almost worth the drive on their own.

Ideal meal: Pozole ($13.95), cochinita pibil ($13.95) and a fruit tamale ($3.95). 

Best deal: On weekdays you can get a giant lunch burrito for $10. But if you're going here for a burrito, you're missing the point. 

Pro tip: Amelia's serves breakfast, but it does not serve any alcohol.

10 am-8 pm Monday-Thursday, 10 am-9 pm Friday, 9 am-9 pm Saturday. $$.


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