Inside Mex-Tex Cantina La Taq
Tex-Mex lovers rejoice! Portland’s Texas barbecue missionary, Rodney Muirhead, has finally debuted his new bar, La Taq, next door to Podnah’s Pit, at 1625 NE Killingsworth Street.
The small, 42-seat room (including a 12-stool bar) maintains Podnah’s minimalist aesthetic, but with a new level of detail. Pressed tin panels line the concrete bar top, artful tiles cover the walls and floor in turquoise and adobe while backlit Texas lone stars illuminate the stained wooden booths.
The short menu is divided into “Tacos,” “Botanas” (snacks), and “Salads, Soups & Sides.” Prices are dirt cheap (tacos $2.50, everything else under $8), and tortillas come courtesy of Portland’s painstakingly authentic, fresh-ground masa brand, Three Sisters Nixtamal. Further down the list, heavily spiced, house-ground chorizo comes sandwiched with Oaxacan cheese in a corn quesadilla, and Podnah’s smoke-ringed brisket plays a major role, wedged into tacos and scattered over refried bean nachos.
Early standouts from the menu include a thick, elastic queso fundido, bubbly brown around the edges and topped with meaty, stewed chanterelles, and a spicy, soul-warming posole verde thick with shredded chicken and hominy.
La Taq’s mystery bartender has finally been revealed: Former Beaker & Flask owner Kevin Ludwig is manning the cantina, mixing up tequilas and mezcals on an affordable, 8-piece cocktail list. Early creations include The Xanarita, a vibrant margarita spin-off with carrot juice, cilantro simple syrup, and cumin sprinkled on the top (an old standby from Ludwig’s days at Park Kitchen), and a peaty, scotch-heavy Devil in a Boot.
Check out our slide show from the new "Mex-Tex" cantina by clicking the photo above and give the chanterelle queso fundido a try for yourself.
1625 NE Killingsworth St