For over two decades, Tortilleria y Tienda De Leon has been a beacon for incredible Mexican food on NE Glisan, right on the border of Portland and Gresham. It’s been a one-stop shop for Mexican groceries, plus a wealth of house-made goodies: fresh corn tortillas and salsas that are also sold wholesale to stores like New Seasons, and a hot bar dishing out some of the best carnitas and chiles rellenos in town. But at the end of this month, the family-owned business will close its doors and reopen in a new home in Southeast Portland. October 31 will be Tortilleria y Tienda De Leon’s last day at 16223 NE Glisan St; the former location will transform into a halal grocery store and meat market. On November 1, De Leon will open the doors to its new location at 4512 SE 28th Ave.
“We were able to purchase the property—over here [the rent] was pretty high,” says owner Lucy De Leon, whose parents, Francisca and Anselmo De Leon, founded the business and still worked at the shop every day prior to the pandemic, into their 70s and 80s. “It’s a little sad leaving Gresham because these were my roots, too. But it’s going to be a new chapter for us, too.”
At the new De Leon, expect the same fresh corn tortillas and house-made salsas (we particularly love the rich orange habanero), which will be made on site for wholesale and also available directly to the public. The hot bar, too, will still be going strong, with even more chiles rellenos stocked in the case, plus carnitas, carne asada, rice and beans, tamales, tacos, breakfast burritos with chorizo and potato, and veggie options like cactus salad. The famous guisados, like spicy red pork with cactus, will continue to simmer in the case. (Try one on top of a chile relleno.) Catering will also be available.
This location, however, won’t have a grocery store—but it will have an outdoor seating area. Production of tamales will ramp up, too. Already, Tortilleria y Tienda De Leon might make as many as 15,000 tamales in an order for school districts like Portland, Beaverton, and Hillsboro. (Lucky kids.) Around the holidays, New Seasons might order 30,000. The new shop will be able to produce even more tamales just in time for Christmas, with flavors including pork, chicken, jalapeño cheese, chicken in banana leaf, and vegan tamales.
After 23 years, Tortilleria y Tienda De Leon still has many of its same loyal customers. "I see customers that came here as kids. And now they bring their own kids," says Lucy.
“I’m very grateful for the community that built our business ... but we’re still here—six miles away—providing the same taste, the same love that we put into our food.” And in other good news? While the old location closed at 6 p.m. every night, the new location will be open seven days a week until much later—maybe even 10 p.m. Guisado lovers, rejoice.