How nice is it when you have a place you know without fail is going to make you happy? For GWB, it's the ranch in Texas where he can forget about those thousands of young Americans he's needlessly killed...errr, sent to fight the "terraists". For (ex)Senator Larry Craig, it's a stall in an airport bathroom. And for lovers of beautifully prepared authentic Mexican food in Portland, it Nuestra Cocina. My friend and confidant DOR recently found ourselves there for a long overdue dinner out, and chef/owner Benjamin Gonzalez's food once again absolutely knocked us out.
The crazy good qeusadilla and rockfish ceviche
For me the place to sit at NC is right at their kitchen counter, where you're about three feet away from where Benjamin and his sous chef are throwing your plates together. This is one of the best counters in town, you are right in the action...I love it! For me it is a must to start with one of their "traditional" margaritas, made with fresh squeezed juices. Always gets me in the correct frame of mind, and goes perfectly with the complimentary plate of freshly made corn tortillas and salsa. My usual, must have starter is their addictive sopes, but this time we skipped those dishes of goodness and opted for a couple of their specials, a qeusadilla filled with stuffed squash blossoms ad a rockfish ceviche that were both unreal. The quesadilla was a brilliantly conceived bit of seasonality, and the ceviche was citrusy and mouthwateringly fresh. We followed those fabulous bites with a trio of their carnitas tacos, and a filet of black cod on fresh sweet corn and snap peas. Again, too good, and fabulous to have Benjamin sourcing this great local produce and implementing it in surprising, and very satisfying dishes. For dessert, we worked our way though a mango upside-down cake and a chocolate cake with cinnamon house made ice cream. God, what a way to go. Happy? You bet your ass!
Black cod on summer vegetables and two delectable desserts.