Quesadillas are one of the ultimate comfort foods: cheesy, crisp, easy to make as a snack or quick meal with endless options for customization. But these quesadillas are next-level, all sporting handmade, toasty corn tortillas made to order, melty Oaxaca-style cheese that’s guaranteed to stretch at least six inches, and housemade salsas that perk up the taste buds.
This Pearl District Mexican restaurant is known for its handmade corn tortillas, lovingly made by Janet Vargas, or Doña Chapis as she’s known to the kitchen staff. Vargas combines multiple colors of Three Sisters Nixtamal masa—blue, green, white, yellow—to create multicolored tortillas. Then, she nestles queso oaxaca from Salem’s Don Froylan Creamery inside the tortilla, plus your optional choice of guisado: piquant pollo enchilado, rich cochinita pibil, or earthy champiñones. Dip each bite in nutty, toasty salsa macha (an oil-based blend of peanuts, sesame, garlic, and chile—see the recipe here) or salsa de aguacate (think a light, creamy, mildly spicy guacamole). Enjoy your quesadillas on República’s airy patio, or take them to go. 721 NW 9th Ave #175, 541-900-5836
Quesadillas La Michoacana
Bring cash to pay for these massive quesadillas—just $6 each—at this weekends-only parking lot stand. Inside the exceptionally crisp tortillas, choose from over a dozen fillings, ranging from the intensely porky chicharrón prensado to homey potato-chorizo. There are also plenty of vegetarian fillings on offer, including rajas, chiles capones, and champiñones. Each is sided with cabbage-onion slaw, pickled white onions, and smoky, toasty red salsa. A couple picnic tables are available, but if no seats are open, the trunk of your car should make a fine counter for a quick, standing-room-only bite. 18480 SE Stark St, 971-386-9841
Across the street from Quesadillas La Michoacana, El Capullo offers a very different type of quesadilla: a thick, soft corn tortilla, extra cheesy with your choice of meat inside (we like the spit-roasted al pastor). It comes on a paper plate with a generous portion of grilled onions. Grab some paper towels from the communal roll, drizzle some green salsa, find yourself a seat at one of the picnic benches, and chow down. 400 SE 185th Ave, 503-268-3653
This cart is nestled inside a pod full of excellent options and plenty of outdoor seating, but it’s the go-to for quesadillas on toasty, crunchy handmade tortillas alongside a stoplight-colored selection of medium red, hot yellow habanero, and mild green avocado salsa. Our meaty pick: the pineapple-laden al pastor. Vegetarians, ask for the veggie option that’s available that day; on our visit, it was a blend of zucchini, yellow bell peppers, and onion. 600 SE 146th Ave, 971-220-5112
This cart, next to a mini mart near Laurelhurst Park, serves up quesadillas made with thick, chewy tortillas crafted from Three Sisters Nixtamal masa. Our go-to filling is the namesake cactus in red stew, which pairs nicely with the creamy, stretchy cheese. It comes with rice, beans, guacamole, and a rainbow of salsas for a full meal. There’s no seating available, so take it to the park or eat your quesadilla at home. 935 SE Cesar E Chavez Blvd, 503-989-8150
Weekend carnitas with handmade tortillas are the main draw at this Gresham restaurant, which currently offers indoor seating. But you also can’t go wrong with any of the handmade masa dishes, including corn quesadillas filled with chicken tinga, mole, chiles capones, barbacoa, or rajas. 620 SE 181st Ave #4943, 503-669-0130