The Long-Awaited Portland Mercado Debuts with Homegrown Latin American Cuisine
This time last year, Portland Mercado was just an idea; its aspirational home: an abandoned car lot on the corner of 72nd Ave and Southeast Foster Road. Now, it’s a bustling, vibrant marketplace where Hispanic locals and hungry visitors meet halfway in the name of great, authentic food, with abundant food carts, a butcher shop, a bar, and everything in between.
Under the umbrella of Hacienda Community Development Corporation, Portland Mercado aims to unite two driving forces of civic culture: Portland’s buzzing food scene and our booming Hispanic communities. (Reality check: Oregon’s Hispanic population is growing five times faster than the state as a whole.) On a recent weekend, Mercado was overflowing with hungry patrons, from Spanish-speaking locals to flavor-seeking gringos lured away from their usual Division Street haunts.
Portland Mercado’s outdoor boardwalk is anchored by eight carts. From the Latin American lineup*, a few will look familiar to Farmer’s Market goers, like Tierra Del Sol and Mexteca, two Oaxaca-inspired carts driven by earthy, dark mole. Worth sampling: 5 Volcanes, an El Salvadorian cart that turns out the country’s signature pupusas—chewy, cheesy dough, filled with the likes of chicharrón (fried pork rinds), and loroco (edible flowers). Beyond that, the Mercado’s early vendors are hit or miss.
Inside the bright, boxy Mercado headquarters, you’ll find a grocer selling everything from pomelos to dried chiles, a piñata and candy store, a juice bar, a coffee shop, and the Barrio, a beer and wine den that sprawls out into a patio. Stick to Northwest taps like HUB and Ninkasi, or go for a standard Modelo, but avoid the watery sangria and michelada. Deeper inside, El Carnicero, an outpost of Beaverton butcher shop Ponderosa Provisioners, offers cuts of lamb, beef, chicken, and pork, while Don Felipe, a dedicated chorizo maker, stuffs some of the best red and green sausage in town.
While it’s not a hotbed of creative Latin American cuisine quite yet, Portland Mercado is quickly becoming a Southeast Portland destination, and a step in the right direction, no matter where you come from.
7238 SE Foster Road
Everyday, 10 am-9 pm
*A previous version of this article accidentally and incorrectly used the term "Spanish" to describe Portland Mercado's cuisine, which is predominantly Latin American, including countries like Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala. We regret this error.