Xico does things her own way. For example, the cooks mill their own masa with a small, 5-horsepower machine, a laborious process to produce corn tortillas for a high-end restaurant also paying for prime space on Division. It's romantic, sure—it's also why this brightly decorated restaurant sells $16 guacamole and a $24 chicken tamale plate. The concept was conceived as an antidote to those dumb enough to think our continent's richest culinary tradition is déclassé.

But it feels a little more rico than suave.

Photo: Emily Joan Greene Photo: Emily Joan Greene

A plate of miniature sopapillas and $8 esquites with a little cotija lime and chili de árbol didn't match the flavors I encountered on the streets of Mexico City, probably because our cold-grown sweet corn lacks the character of the ears from central Mexico.

But they were tasty.

We did find some gems, including a halibut ceviche tostada ($14), with a little of that super-premium guac. And not everything is pricey—totopos ($7) are basically chilaquiles, chips fried in nutty chili de árbol with fancy sour cream and cheese. Think of them as nachos. Everyone likes nachos, right?

Photo: Emily Joan Greene Photo: Emily Joan Greene

Pro tip: Xico recently started a late-night happy hour with a $6 hot dog and $6.25 margaritas.

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

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