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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Portland
Food
Feel
Price
9.0
4.5
$15
Mexican
Casual restaurant

Hours
Daily 8:00am–10:00pm

Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Not accepted

Tigard
11945 Southwest Pacific Highway
Tigard, OR
(503) 747-0864
Taquería 7 Estrellas
The best tacos in the Portland area, where you least expect them

Those iconic hand-painted signs, the signals of regional authenticity, decorate the expanses of cheap-looking glass that separate this unknown, underappreciated Mexican restaurant from the Tigard strip-mall parking lots that surround it. “Estilo Jalisco,” says one of the paintings—indicating the style of Mexico’s Jalisco state, home to Guadalajara, where the torta ahogada (drowned sandwich)—listed on the menu here as “hogada”—is king. It’s served on a bolillo (baguette-ish roll), stuffed with chunks of juicy roast pork, and bathed in a spicy tomato-and-chile broth. The torta ahogada is like a hot Mexican version of French dip, and this is one of the only places in the United States where we have seen it on a menu.

No less impressive are the 7 Estrellas tacos. It is rare that we say this, but every single one on the menu is outstanding, built around some of the best tortillas in the Portland area, light, fluffy, and a touch sweet. Seven stars stand out in the firmament of fillings. Birria de res (slow-stewed beef) has a lovely, aromatic baking-spice quality to it. Tacos de cabeza have that gelatinous loveliness we seek in head cheese. Small shrimp are fried, yet of a remarkable lightness and sweetness; tacos de pescado (fish) are thickly battered, and look heavy—yet the flaky, moist, bright white fish flesh balances out the richness of the batter, as in an excellent English fish and chips. Lengua (tongue) is unusually meaty, al pastor has great depth, and carnitas are meltingly tender. Order an assortment, and they’ll come in one big platter of deliciousness, strewn with onions and cilantro and lime, a celebration of Mexico’s many meats.

Tortas beyond the ahogada, made from fresh bread and high-quality produce, are also a great way to go. Chiles rellenos, enchiladas, and other more ubiquitous Mexican-American preps are also well executed, and you can get them stuffed with those same delicious fillings. We’ve enjoyed a carne asada platter, and an excellent pork tamal. Still, tacos are really the star of the show.

You might as well call ahead and order take-out (which is easier if you speak Spanish), because there is nothing to like about the room, whose ten or so tables have a suburban-pizzeria quality to them. The staff is friendly, but food can take an extremely long time to come, even when the restaurant is almost empty. But such is the cost, perhaps, of serious tacos, seriously prepared to order; you can pass the time with Mexican sodas and such. The truth, uncomfortable as it may be, is that this unsung taquería off Route 99 is better than any Mexican restaurant in the city of Portland.

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