When Autentica opened in 2006, the high-end Mexican game wasn't very competitive in Portland. Back then, the only other places doing dishes like wild-boar tacos and flan with fresh berries were Taqueria Nueve and Nuestra Cocina.
Former Southpark sous chef Oswaldo Bibiano's friendly Concordia neighborhood spot immediately made an impact with fresh-pressed corn tortillas and complex moles made from dozens of nuts and spices. New openings have brought more competition in recent years, and Bibiano has been busy with follow-up projects like a casual taqueria, a roadside beer garden and the much-missed Mextiza.
So it was a pleasant surprise to discover that Autentica is having a renaissance. Just as when it opened, Autentica is now right there with T9 as the best of its class.
The most impressive thing about Autentica is the amount of flavor it packs into every morsel of food. The trio of salsas served with warm housemade tortillas—no chips here, amigo—had layers of brightness and heat I'd forgotten existed after so many years of living in this misty land. The guacamole is salty and earthy, and worthy of tacofying with a tortilla and a little bright-green salsa verde to counterbalance those good fats.
At brunch, a smoky grilled ranchera-style hanger steak was served over an inviting acid bath of grilled tomatillo, then garnished with intensely spiced chorizo that also enhanced a runny over-easy egg. A torta with stewy roasted pork leg came on a crisp and buttery bun, with a little pickled jalapeno and some avocado to round it out.
Pro Tip: Thursday is pozole night.