Since opening in 2012 as a playful, Mexican, sort-of-fine-dining spot on SE Division Street, Xico has delivered food highs and off-moments, short-lived lunch and brunch experiments, a deserved reputation as Portland’s mescal headquarters, and some very awesome tortillas that burst with organic corn, ground in the back room. It’s also one of the cutest restaurants around: fun and chic but never studied. It’s easy to forget about Xico, and yet something is always cooking here.
Now, Eat Beat has learned that Xico is rebooting lunch on Wednesday, February 7. A sneak peek reveals a tight list of tacos, sandwiches, bowls, and desserts sporting classic Xico touches: good-quality meats, detailed salsas, and bright, lean flavors. The list runs from a chorizo torta on a butter-grilled roll to avocado salad in cilantro vinaigrette to chocolate pudding flan. It also includes the “Xico Bowl,” kaleidoscoped with Mexican rice, Yucatecan black beans (chef Kelly Myers has a way with beans), two kinds of pickled escabeche, fried plantains, iceberg lettuce, sour cream, and a pile of shredded tortilla strips. Now that’s a lunch bowl.
On a recent trip to Mexico City, Myers says she was taken by the traditional women cooks or cocineras tradicionale, noting the abundance of greens and herbs in their dishes. It inspired her to make a new lunchtime greens picadillo taco with sweet and sour tomato, green olives, golden raisins, capers and roasted almonds. “It’s a piquant, satisfying griddled taco,” she says, “even without the optional slab of melting queso fresco.”
What caught my eye is Xico’s habanero caramel drinking chocolate, which I’ve written about on different occasions as a wickedly delicious sip. It's not to be missed. Myers is also reprising (on weekends only) her temporary brunch chilaquiles. The memory still lingers: freshly fried chips, simmered in a sauce rippling with nutty, not-too-hot chile de arbol, then layered up with scrambled eggs, radishes and crema. This time around, we’ll get a choice of two salsas, and the option to add chorizo for $3. Count me in.
Lunch begins February 7, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Wednesdays–Sundays.