Review: Por Qué No? Taqueria

[updated 3.11]

Patio

¿Por Qué No? is yet another hole-in-the wall taqueria to grace Portland, this time in the burgeoning Mississippi area. Located just 500 feet north of Fremont on Mississippi, it is a small converted  garage with a dozen tables inside, a recently converted and covered area next door, and a choice of tables and benches on the sidewalk out front. Service is very casual – just order at the counter from the small menu and find a table. They’ll bring the food to you.

I like sitting under the umbrellas watching the world go by while sipping a Negra Modelo. This place reminds me of a beach-side taqueria in Los Angeles where I spent many happy hours in my youth. On my first visit I asked a friend, “What does this place remind you of?” We both laughed as he said, “Hermosa Beach”.

Ten varieties of tacos are available:

  • Carnitas with Carlton Farms pork, salsa verde, onions, cliantro and queso fresco from Ochoa Cheese $2.75
  • Verduras – Seasonal vegetables, beans, pico de gallo and cilantro $2.75
  • Pollo Verde – Draper Valley chicken braised in tomatillo salsa and served with salsa verde, onions and cilantro – $2.75
  • Porque tinga with Cascade Natural beef in smokey pasilla chile sauce $3
  • Carne asada of Cascade Natural choped steak $3
  • Pollo Asado – spicy chipotle-rubbed grilled Draper Valley chicken topped with crema, salsa roja and pico de gallo $3
  • Chorizo – homemade from Rainshadow El Rancho pork with queso fresco, onions, cilantro and crema $3
  • Pescado – Cornmeal encrusted Alaskan cod served with crema, cabbage, salsa verde, onion, cilantro and pineapple $3.50
  • Calamari – Wild squid and bell peppers sautéed with chili seasoning and served with crema, salsa roja and pico de gallo $3.50
  • Camarones – Wild shrimp, sautéed with chili seasoning and served with crema, cabbage, salsa verde, onion, cilantro and pineapple $4

Other items include ceviche $8.50+, quesadilla $4.00, ¿Por Qué salad – $9, with fish $11,  and one of my favorites, Bryan’s bowl of meat or vegetables in a bowl with beans, rice, guacomole, salsas, queso fresco, crema and cilantro. Over the last few years the menu has expanded to include tamales of the day and flautas, but I haven’t tried them. Specials also rotate through the menu – most recently Barbacoa beef brisket tacos, pork sausage and asparagus tacos, and sopa de rez beef stew. Some of the brunch choices are chorizo and eggs, grilled strip steak with peppers and eggs, and pork belly and potato tacos. A bloody Mary will wash it all down for $7.

I think ¿Por Qué No? is just fine, and I like to know that the ingredients are of prime quality and sustainably caught – owner Bryan Steelman is a big believer in using fresh, natural ingredients, and their provenance is listed on the menu.  Obviously this is going to drive the price up a bit, but it doesn’t seem to keep people away. However, some in the food community still complain that $3 for a taco is too much. One of the reasons for the higher prices is their commitment to sustainability. ¿Por Qué No? uses local hormone and antibiotic-free meats, line-caught fish, wild shrimp from sustainable fisheries, Viridian Farms produce, etc. They also use rice bran oil in their fryer, which is a healthier choice. Furthermore, waste oil is used as gas in their vehicle, and servers are actually given a living wage and offered medical/dental insurance. This commitment carries through in the food and service, and you feel good about eating there. A second complaint I’ve heard is that the tacos are too small. Spend some time in ‘real’ Mexico, and you’ll find they are the traditional size.

On my visits the crowd is a melting pot of all kinds of people from the area, which makes good people watching. Even though there always seems to be a line when I go, the service is excellent and relaxed; the staff came out to the sidewalk several times to make sure we had everything we needed. Ask for the extra bottles of salsa as they can add a bit of kick when needed.

It is obvious they care about the food. Like many of the better Portland restaurants, Unlike many places, tortillas are made fresh by hand and are just the right thickness, though they can be a bit gummy at times. An email from the owner said they are addressing the issue.

I’ll start with the guacamole. It is very fresh and made the way I do it, with nice chunks of avocado, onions, and cilantro. The first time I thought it was good but needed a bit of acid. A week later the acid balance was better but it was a bit under-salted. The house-made chips are not that great; sometimes they can be soggy/oily, others a bit under-salted.

Tortillas are made fresh, all day long. I like all the tacos, especially the pescado.  They are full of nice chunks of moist Alaskan cod, cabbage, and strips of ripe pineapple. Occasionally they are mostly smaller pieces of fish which don’t have as much flavor. The carnitas are just fine, though I think the smoky chipotle sauce could use a bit of work. The bright, fresh, green sauce on many items is quite good, and authentic.

Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 11 – 3pm. There is also a mid-day menu from 3:00-6:00 every day, and from 3:00 to close Tuesdays with $3.00 beers, and .50 off tacos, and .50 off beer. The beer choice is fair – Pacifico, Negra Modelo, Modelo Esp, etc. A rotating draft is also available. ¿Por Qué No? also offers margaritas and other Mexican cocktails for $6 and up.

Several non-alcohol drinks are available outside of the usual sodas and beer. They seem to change depending on the weather, but recent options included a very fresh refreshing watermelon drink and prickly pear juice ($3).

While the food here definitely satisfies, it can be inconsistent. I greatly prefer the Mississippi restaurant over the Hawthorne one, but part of the difference is just the overall vibe. Either way, ¿Por Qué No? will continue to be a lunch spot whenever I find myself in the area.

 

  • Address: two locations: 3525 N. Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR. 97227 (Google Map) Second Location: 4635 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland OR 97215. Google Map
  • Phone: Mississippi – 503-467-4149 & Hawthorne - 503-954-3138
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday from 11:00 to 9:00, Friday-Sat 11:00 to 10:00, *Brunch items 11-3pm. Mid-day menu 3-6pm daily & 3 to close on Taco Tuesdays.
  • Happy Hour: see above.

¿Por Qué No? on Urbanspoon

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. Anonymous says

    Wow, I can’t believe that there are any negative comments about the food at por que no….the tortillas are amazing, the carnitas are delicious, the shrimp and fish tacos conjure memories of mexican beachside, the ceviche is made daily, and the service is simple but unbelievably friendly.

    the person who hates the guac must hate avocados!

  2. tha-krza says

    All I will say is this:

    Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon

    Once you’ve had their carnitas tacos for $2 each, Porque No is miserably, saddly and utterly lacking.

    Just saying.

    And I hated their guacamole. Nice service, however. Hope they improve!

  3. J.D. says

    I’ll have to try Por Que No next time I’m up visiting friends in the Mississippi neighborhood. Down south, in Sellwood, I really dig on the tacos at Cha Cha Cha. A buck fifty gets you two tasty little tacos. I typically order three different kinds: for $4.50 I get six tasty treats.

  4. shuna fish lydon says

    I think it does make a really big difference that they care about where their raw ingredients are coming from. I loved that my yellow watermelon agua fresca was made without sugar! And I loved the garnishes for the fish taco, I thought it was perfect.
    I’ll be back, as well, in the next week or so. maybe I’ll run into you…

  5. ExtraMSG says

    JD, when you’re in Sellwood (well, technically Westmoreland that far North), try San Felipe instead of Cha, Cha, Cha. I consider the latter better for burritos and the former better for tacos. Plus they make some nice gorditas (not the Taco Bell type, but the true gorditas).

  6. PDXFoodDude says

    I actually didn’t try more than a sip of the watermelon agua fresca ’cause I can’t stand watermelon (I know, I’m weird). I was suprised how good it was.

  7. jthompson says

    i went to por que no twice last week and stumbled into two great finds…One was a brunch on Sunday in which i had some pancakes topped with plantains, and a fine cup of Mexican hot chocolate….

    the other was a happy hour that i didn’t know about….it runs from 3-6 every day! prices are great, and it is unknown as of yet, so there is no line!

  8. Food Dude says

    I actually updated the review with the brunch and happy hour info a week or two ago. Such a minor update I didn’t bother to mention it. I should have. They also have 3 kinds of eggs.

  9. Marshall Manning says

    We went to Porque on Sunday and weren’t extremely impressed. While the carnitas and fish tacos had very good flavor, both seemed to have little meat, and weren’t worth the $2.50/$3.50 that they were charging. The total bill for 4 tacos and 2 Jarritos was $16, which is high considering that you can get 6 carnitas tacos and 2 Jarritos for $11.50 at Salvador’s in Tigard and the tacos will be just as good but with much more filling. When it comes to Mexican food, I’d rather have the strip mall ambience and pay less for a heartier meal.

  10. jim settler says

    Marshall how can you be critical of anything when you live in the burbs? Stay away from great places like Mississippi, and stick to the Bell!

  11. Marshall Manning says

    Nice intelligent comments, Jim!

    First, I’m guessing you have no idea where I live.

    Second, is someone’s palate for a certain type of food dependent on where they reside?

    Third, if you’ve been to any Mexican places outside of Mississippi, you’d probably realize that there are better Mexican places in “the burbs” (Newberg, Woodburn, Tigard) than there are in the city of Portland. And I’d bet there are more Taco Bells in Portland, too.

  12. Carolyn Manning says

    Jim,

    Can you explain your logic here?

    Aside from your erroneous assumption that Marshall lives in the “burbs”, I’m not following your train of thought.

    Are you of the opinion that only neighborhood people should eat in these places? Are you saying Porque must survive on the revenue from only sales to locals? How would they feel about that?

    Perhaps you are of the opinion that people should not travel out of their neighborhoods to eat. Interesting idea. Do you ever eat anyplace outside of your neighborhood? I know we do … we travel wherever the food is good.

    We found the food at Porque to be quite tasty, as Marshall said. It was, however, not better than mexican food places we’ve tried in “the burbs” … where, if you think about it, the best mexican chefs are more likely to be … closer to the freshest food they can purchase … which would be at the farms. There aren’t many farms raising pigs, cabbage and tomatoes on Mississippi, now are there?

    And while tasty, as Marshall said, Porque was not as good a value as the other exquisite examples of truly fine, authentic mexican food we’ve found “out of town.” While they are not convenient to reach, they are surely worth the trip.

    It also seems strange that you believe the only alternative to Porque is Taco Bell. Perhaps this is the limit of your experience with Mexican food. If so, we agree: Porque wins! But to assume that is all there is, seems to be rather limited thinking. You might want to expand your dining experiences some, and we would be glad to give you names, addresses, phone numbers of places we have enjoyed more than we did Porque … we’ll even help you figure out the bus route from Mississippi, if you need it. There is a plethera of amazing food in “the burbs,” making it totally worth the trip!

    Let us know if we can help!

  13. Dudley says

    Jim:

    What a knucklehead comment.

    If you have an opinion, go ahead and share it. However, at least add some information/knowledge and not just slam someone. I find most people on this site are willing to back up their opinions and engage in a meaningful dialogue. It’d be nice if you could do the same.

  14. Apollo says

    I dunno, $16 for a meal still seems incredibly cheap to me. As far as the burbs are concerned, as good as the food may be, I still have trouble dining anywhere west of the hills. I just can’t stand the suburbs myself. To me driving a long way just for mexican seems crazy. That said, I do like to dine in wine country, but I wouldn’t call that the burbs. Plus I don’t eat Mexican at Joel Palmer or Tina’s… I will shut up now.

  15. Marshall Manning says

    Apollo, $16 might not be bad if you weren’t still hungry two hours later, but our tacos at Porque were very skimpy and were not filling.

    And for us (we live in SW Portland), driving to Salvador’s on 99 in Tigard is no more difficult than driving to Porque on Mississippi. And if the food is as good or better, at a lower price, it makes sense to go there.

    Next time you’re out in wine country and want a good burrito, try Panaderia Gonzalez in Newberg (on 99 eastbound in old Newberg)…delicious carnitas, and only $3.50 (the same price Porque charges for a skimpy fish taco!).

  16. ExtraMSG says

    Apollo, you could head to La Bonita on Don Pancho on Alberta or 3 Hermanos Taco Truck on Killingsworth and spend half as much and do quite well on most items in comparison to Por Que No, although I think I’ve had better success there than some. (It’s also worth noting that for those that local/natural foods are important, PQN does better there than the Cash & Carry loving taquerias. Not an issue for me, but…)

  17. jthompson says

    I just had another meal at Por Que no, and then decided to read the new comments on this site….I don’t understand the comments regarding the size..the tacos at PQN seem larger to me than at other taquerias?? also, i think that they are just a different type of restaurant…they have hand made tortillas and use local meat and produce….i will continue to go to pqn…plus, they had a liquor license posting in their window and said that they are trying to get margaritas.

  18. Marshall Manning says

    I don’t know about some of the other places, but I know Salvador’s uses Carlton pork, as well as homemade tortillas (at least the taco corn tortillas).

  19. Food Dude says

    I was at Porque last week and had fish tacos that were stuffed with large pieces of nice moist fish, perfectly balanced with the sauce. There was a period a few months ago when they seemed to shrink a bit, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. It is still one of my favorite places for lunch.

  20. says

    I really want to like Por Que No, and perhaps I need to give them another chance. But as I really love chilequilles, I was WAY disappointed with some I had there recently. I’m sorry, but chilequilles are not scrambled eggs placed on crispy tortilla chips like a plate of nachos. Very disappointing. I’ll go back for the agua frescas (that’s a nice find in Portland) and the organic ingredients, but I’m not expecting good traditional Mexican food there…if anyone knows where to get chilequilles in Portland, let me know!

  21. Food Dude says

    I’ve never had the chilequilles at Por Que No, but you are right, those don’t sound anywhere near authentic. I do however like the ones at Gotham Building Tavern breakfast. They aren’t totally authentic, but are much closer to what you would expect.

  22. tha-krza says

    Reading these comments through the months, it seems there is still no reason to return to Porque No.

    However, now that there is good word of this Autentica place on Killingsworth, maybe that will fill the void with some really, really good Mexican in the NE that isn’t the usual OK-ness of La Bonita (great tamales, though)or El Taco.

  23. jthompson says

    tha-krza,

    You are wrong, por que no is an awesome place and definitely worth visiting.
    You are right, autentica is also a wonderful new spot.

    But let me tell you, it is hard to take any advice about food from someone who uses “OK-ness” as an adjective to describe a restaurant. And quit being so cranky, it sounds like you don’t even eat at these restaurants you are taking hits at, and if you aren’t going to eat there before making judgements, then don’t take jabs at their livlihood.

  24. LadyConcierge says

    I went to Por Que No 2 days ago and it was good; I liked it… but, with my carnitas and tinga tacos was a good amount of OIL sitting on the bottom of my basket. WTF? Anyone else had that experience? I want to go back as the tacos were cheap, filling and good quality, but….

  25. El Taquero (Jim Vs. Marshall) says

    First off Jim I must say you are pretty ignorant to say that somebody doesn’t know good “mexican” food cause they live in the burbs. Second Marshall knows good mexican food cause he has been to Salvadors in Tigard (Another one in Woodburn). Por Que No? is weak when it comes to mexican food, it is just another white-washed taqueria for people who want a meal nothing like that served in mexico. For authentic mexican try branching out from Por Que No? San Felipe, The Alberta Taquerias, and go try Luis’ (woodburn) Taqueria Uruapan (Se 82nd), Salvadors, Panaderia Mitzil (Oregon City), and the Tortas at Ole Frijole (NE Kill.) are very nice too.

    • Frank says

      El Taquero your first point is good, your second point isn’t. Point of the matter is all mexican places here are AMERICANIZED period. These places cater to Americans not Mexicans. I have never been to a place in Oregon, Washington or California (a much higher level) that I am crazy about. I will admit that I am totally biased here because my mom’s cooking I can get nowhere, only from her.

      So you enjoy your white-washed places as you refer to and let others enjoy their’s.

    • says

      I’d try everyone of those places if I wasn’t scared of the meat. Have you ever seen the garbage at Restaurant Depot they are pushing on these tacquerias? Don’t go if you are easily grossed out.

  26. jthompson says

    el taquero,

    i do agree with some of your choices of other taqueria options, especially Taqueria Uruapan and Luis’ (two of the alberta taquerias are a belly ache), but for you to totally disrespect Por Que No, i think that you are doing readers of this blog a diservice. Por Que No delivers on many fronts, and I think that you must not realize that you are comparing very different restaurants. I also question whether you know what you mean when you say authentic…Mexico is a huge country, and we need to be careful when we label something authentic or not authentic…I think that you need to visit places in Mexico outside of Cabo or Cancun.

  27. Chicana says

    I highly recommend La Autentica in NE PDX.

    They have homemade bollitos, tortillas, mole, a wonderful whole fish in chile sauce, and quesadillas with epazote and other treats you won’t find on many other menus…..yum.

    The atmosphere and service also makes it a nice place for a special meal —

    They have pozole on Thursday — I’m eager to try that….

  28. Freemont? says

    Por Que whattchama call it, is awful. Conceptual it’s nice(local food sources) but the food is bland and it’s ran by gringos. The name is fun to say but in translation it’s kind of dorky.

  29. Roberto says

    Authentica certainly is a terrific Mexican restaurant. No standard burritos or enchiladas, but chef/owner Oswaldo prepares some authentic regional dishesthat you won’t find elsewhere.

  30. Food Dude says

    Actually it’s spelled Autentica (without the ‘h’). I just posted the menu if anyone has missed it. They do have one enchilada plate that is pretty standard (except that it is good).

  31. Sally Farrell says

    Por que No is expensive. Can go to Esparza’s and get more food and two margaritas for less than at Por que No?

    Too expensive for what it is.
    You have to pay for chips and salsa.
    Salsa isn’t too good.
    Shrimp tacos and shrimp quesadilla are excellent.

    • says

      I used to love esparza’s until I saw the filthy kitchen on TV. he buys the cheapest food and it tastes that way. Hard to believe it was once the Boregonians restaurant of the year.

  32. Ellie says

    I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance of the Tres Hermanos wagon parked at Killingsworth and Denver. That family makes some amazing pastor and barbacoa. Thursday is posole night at Autentica – their damned delicious white posole is worth the drive. I think Por Que No? is about atmosphere rather than food – you pay for the relative “luxury” of being able to have a beer with your tacos and some Mississippi Ave people watching.

  33. george says

    expensive, yes. but i think the value is there. the meat quality is excellent. ingredients are fresher then average.

    the food is very authentic, albeit a bit more classy then a lot of mexican food that gets brought up here. as a friend of mine from mexico city says, “thats food that people from chihuahua eat, not real mexicans”. you know, mexicans are like that.

    anyway, wow. the horchata at por que no is great. i dont think anyone has mentioned that yet.

    also, another secret: the house made salsas are excellent. head to the back of the restaurant, and fill some ramekins with salsa. then your tacos will come alive.

  34. StMaximo says

    Freemont? Aaaah. It’s Fremont – presumably after John Fremont a prominant military man of the mid 1800′s.

    Obviously your LA upbringing is showing. I’m sure you’d hammer me if I said “La Jolla” with a hard “j”

    It’s Couch, like cooch and Glisan like Jackie and it’s Willamette Dammit!

    • pdx_yogi says

      Yes it’s named after John Fremont, who was more of a combo pirate/con man/braggart.

      It’s pronounced “Gliss-en”, as in glissade down the mountain. This according to an old friend of that family. I’m a native.

  35. Tammi says

    I like Porque No. Yes it costs a bit more, but the quality and freshness is worth it. The calamari tacos are fantastic. I find the service good too. My one complaint is pineapple of my fish taco? Yuck!
    I also love tres Hermanos and that wonderful taco truck out on 50th and Division (whats that place called?) It all depends on what kind of mood I’m in. Kind of like some days theres nothing like a cheap beer and others….a nice Belgian

  36. Frieda Lighthouse says

    An update on Salvador’s in Woodburn: It’s changed, and much for the worse. Just went last week (July 13, 2007), and ordered what used to be the most wonderful carnitas ever (lush, thick chunks of pork, crispy on the outside, scented lightly with orange). This time (and last time too, a couple of months ago), the carnitas was just thin shreds of horrible, fluffy, tasteless, dry pork. I noticed changes in the room (the case with the chilis was gone, and there’s now a telephone-Mexico place where there were food cases). I fear that they are under new management. My lunch companions, new to Salvador’s were politely glum as they tried to enjoy a terrible meal. Also, the room was almost empty of diners, which bodes ill. Has anyone else had such a bad meal there lately?

  37. Tim says

    I don’t know about the full restaurant, as I have not yet been, but at Interstate Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays, they rock with the carnitas, chips and guac’,and a rotating selection of some fruit juice cocktail with the consistent staple of hibiscus flower tea. I am not a huge avocado fan, and I’m pretty impressed with their guacomole.

    I’m just glad that some places serve fresh Mexican fare, because my picky self doesn’t care for the wilted Sysco sh*t so many others peddle.

  38. nate says

    Just ate lunch there today. Had three tacos: the Porque Tinga had great flavor and I particularly liked the queso fresco, the Pollo Asado had a nice smoky taste with just the right amount of char, and the Calamari was perfectly good without being especially memorable. All three were quite tasty, and I loved the fresh tortillas.

    My only complaint would be the size/price of the food. My three tacos cost $9 which was a bit more than at San Felipe or most other small taquerias. Given the quality, I wouldn’t have been too disappointed, had the portion size been a bit more generous. As someone who tends to eat somewhat modestly, I don’t think I’d ever previously been left hungry after three tacos. However, I can tell that shortly I am going to be hunting around the office for snacks to help me through the rest of my day. Getting a fourth taco for a grand total of $12 seems a bit excessive for a taqueria lunch.

  39. says

    Thanks for the update Nate. I agree that it is a bit expensive and wish they were a little more filling, though I do appreciate they use top quality ingredients.

  40. Alessandra says

    I am brand spankin’ new to Portland and was taken there by a friend recently. Now, I make a super taco myself and have considered in the past opening my own joint, mostly because my friends wanted me to. I ordered 2 tacos because in most places two tacos will completely fill me up. I ordered the calamari, only because I was just talking to a friend about making a calamari taco, and the pescado. The flavor was pretty good. I was a little dissapointed in the calamari. Nothing really stood out other than the fact that it was very liquidy and destroyed the tortilla quickly. The pescado was better and seemed more well rounded. What really stood out was the size. They were the smallest tacos I have ever had and felt more like an appetizer. I lived in LA for a few years and had the best taquerias at my doorstep, not that this makes me an expert. It only raises my expectations. I probably won’t return to Por que No for the tacos, but am willing to try some other things. The chips, salsa, and guac were quite tasty!!

  41. Tony Floyd says

    HI Could you tell me what (Por Que no) Means, thanks?
    I would love to try the place but I live a long off
    Weymouth Dorset GB

  42. Nick says

    Food was ok as I liked the freshness of the food. Not at all as described “LA” food. LA has a lot more mexican restaurants that acutally make good tasting food. Portland’s “mexican” restaurants suck, but I have hope.

  43. Tammy says

    I just went to this taqueria on Saturday night. I had the shrimp taco and it was delicious. I loved the fresh fruit balanced with the spice. The author did not mention the margaritas which were the best I have ever had anywhere. I thought the homemade chips were great – I usually don’t like restaurant chips. My friend from Argentina thought everything was good and even wrote the owner a nice letter about it. Try it.

  44. Lizarella says

    I have heard nothing but good things about the Por Que No on Mississippi. So when one opened up in my neighborhood (Hawthorne) I decided to try it. I had a horrible experience there. The staff was under trained and after waiting for 40 mins I was frustrated, but others around had also not been served so I thought nothing of it. At the 50 min mark I went in to request my food now be to go and shortly after found out that they had lost my order. They did however happily refund my money, but my poor boyfriend had to go back to work hungry and I went across the street to Dingos where I had great food which did not take more than 10 mins. I also think moving in right across the street from Dingos was an arrogant move. ?Por Que No? you say. That’s exactly Por Que No.

  45. Kim Nyland says

    Oh please….to compare the two is simply ridiclulous.. unless you are a dingos or angelos employee (or girlfriend of) that is! Arrogant…..my gawd such a sad world …if they served edible food we might have an argument but since they dont again….gf of, you must be. If Dingo’s had customers (not assuming they had as many as Por Que No this last week…oh yeah did you NOT notice how many people were in front of you) there is no way in hell they could serve what they call food in 10 minutes.

    Why oh why does anyone go to a NEW restaurant (meaning within 4 weeks) & expect service to be spot on?

  46. David says

    Not only is this taqueria very expensive, but honestly (and I know everyone wants to love this place) the tacos are not that good at all. There are so many better taco places, many of which were listed above, in Portland. The portions are soooo tiny, one tiny tortilla per taco, C’MON we all know that if a taco is made right it needs two corn tortillas underneath to cradle the juiciness. It’s a nice place to sit outside, when its not totally packed, but the picnic tables are small. I hope people don’t fall for the decor and hype of this place, coming from someone in the restaurant industry this place is a rip off, they are selling 8 dollar plates of food for what costs them $.75-$1.50, they could definitely up the portions and improve the quality of the food.

  47. Food Gems says

    David – I agree with you. I don’t get the appeal.

    Sure, it is funky Portland – all hipster slackerness, but there are lots of other places in town that offer better food, MUCH better prices, and a cleaner environment for food prep and diners.

    Definitely not my thing.

  48. grapedog says

    Last Saturday afternoon, I was in one of those moods where I had skipped lunch, had a bad day at work and was ready for something to alter the existing course of my day. I had wanted to try Por Que No? for some time, so I jumped in my jalopy and headed over the river.

    When I arrived at 6pm, the line was already outside the door. Most outdoor tables were full even though the sun was going down and it was getting cold. Inside, the world beat music was pulsing, the place was pretty full with happy diners, the kitchen was running at max speed and I had my eye on a little deuce near the back.

    3 Pescado tacos for me, an order of veggie tamales for my dining companion, 2 large margaritas and we were set. Honestly, I was hoping to relive my memories of Maui Tacos, to dust off the crappy day/week and think about better things ahead. No, there is no sand or water near by, but the music and the alcohol started impacting my attitude rather quickly as I enjoyed my tacos.

    $36 for food and drinks (tip extra) was reasonable for me, but the tacos are pretty darn small. For $3.50/taco, I’d expect to get more than just a few bits of fish and citrus with a wad of cabbage. I ate my 3 tacos and felt a need for more food. Unfortunately, the line was still long and the very helpful server said she’d be happy to bring me another margarita but couldn’t bring more food. Annoying, since my only option was to go outside and get in line to order more tacos. NOTE: LOST BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY!! (ahem) I didn’t want to do that, so I ordered another drink and became even more mellow. I became happy.

    For dessert, we ran off to Pix on Williams since I wanted some drunken cherries to complete my evening. Yum.

    Por Que No? is a place that was exactly what I wanted on a Saturday afternoon that was not going well. I didn’t want a full menu, I didn’t want apps/entree/dessert/wine list. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I wanted to be quiet and drink and groove and reset. I imagine there are those diners (me included, in other moods) who prefer something different. I’m glad there are many restaurants in Portland, for all types of all moods.

  49. Anonymous says

    Porque NO WAY. I hate this place. I’ve attempted (and failed) to dine at both the Hawthorne and Mississippi locations, and I’ve been run off from both by bossy customers AND staff who wouldn’t let me sit down before ordering. I mean, c’mon? We have to have RULES about getting our food now? The neighborhoods are so gentrified you can’t get a freaking taco without a lecture? Basically, you can’t put your things down at your table first, and then you stand in a long line only to wind up eating while standing up with your shit all over the floor because they wouldn’t let you get a table before you get in line? This is messed up, man. I did manage to get my hands on a dry, tasteless taco from this place once, but it wasn’t worth the rude shenanigans it takes to try eating here again. I prefer real authentic Mexican roadside carts found throughout the metro area; or even Ole Ole or Cha Cha Cha to these taco nazis. Eff ‘em.

    • LizG says

      Yes, Anonymous, we do “have rules about getting our food now.” Actually, those rules were developed long ago so that people could dine out together without too much disharmony.
      At any restaurant where you order at the counter, and wait for your food, it’s very bad form to take a table before your food is up. (The exception is when the restaurant is really slow and there are several tables available.)
      The first people in the restaurant, and therefore the first in the line ordering their meals, should have first access to available tables. Imagine standing in line waiting to order your food, reaching the front of the line and ordering, finally receiving your food and then not being able to find a place to sit down because people who have come in later (and are still waiting in line to order) have saved a table with their coats or whatever.
      At restaurants like ¿Por Que No? and the Original Hotcake House on Powell Blvd., these rules are necessary. They keep things civil and fair.

      • reflexblue says

        I see your reasoning Liz, and you definitely shouldn’t sit down before ordering, but I have always sat after ordering while waiting to get my food, hopefully with my beverage. Always. And I think I have pretty good manners. I think the practice that you are saying is common (standing to wait for food and then sitting) is out of the ordinary and I wouldn’t eat at a restaurant where I had to do that. How rude to stand around making sitters feel uncomfortable!

        • LizG says

          You’re right Reflexblue. I was putting it too strictly. Mostly it is just fine to sit down once you’ve ordered -assuming everyone is doing it that way and usually they are.
          The real culprits are the people who enter a busy restaurant (where everyone orders at the counter), save themselves a table, and THEN stand in line to order. Those people really are rude.

    • pdx_yogi says

      Anon: a place that has civilized rules that are fair to all, that enable those with actual food in their hands to have a place to sit and eat…you call them “Nazis”? By doing so, you dump on the memories of the many millions who were tortured and murdered by real Nazis. You trivialize their suffering and deaths. Yes I know, you suffered too, by not being able to deposit your precious belongings that were such a horrible burden to carry. So sorry, pal. You sure have it rough.

      If everyone behaved as selfishly and thoughtlessly as you, hoarding tables they don’t even need yet, then half of those who have their orders would have no place to sit. I’ve seen this posted rule MANY places that are busy, from San Francisco to NYC, most recently at the popular Market Lunch at the Eastern Market in DC. So no, it’s not some new thing that they invented.

  50. Hansola says

    Por Que No? is waaaay over-priced for what you get. Long lines of unsavvy people who must have a lot of disposable income.

    • Steve Wino says

      Agreed. Give me the good taco truck any day for real food, real value, without trendy, trendy written all over it.

  51. mostly_running says

    I’d punch a fool in the groin for dropping his stuff at a table if he was behind me in line. You’re lining up for food and a table. When you jump the person in front of you it is poor manners and contributes to the anxiety of opting to dine at a place like this.

    • qv says

      Gotta echo Pdx_yogi here.

      This trend of referring to restaurant owners whose policies you don’t like as “Nazis” is really starting to bug me.

      I like flippant humor as much as the next jackass but really what kind of troll logic connects being asked to wait your turn for a seat, or not accomodating a certain allergy, or credit card rules or any number of restrictions a restaurant might have WITH KILLING MILLIONS OF PEOPLE?

  52. whatthef says

    (big sigh)

    I hate to come to the defense of the socially oblivious “Anonymous”, however, the particular rant about saving a table ended with calling the restaurant “taco nazis”, which I took as a reference (correctly or not) to the amusing Seinfeld “soup nazi” episode rather than a tragically sad period in European history. Scold away, but this rant wasn’t about you or your ancestors. It was about a self centered individual who thought the rules of a particular restaurant were unreasonable.

  53. says

    Here’s the deal – I won’t go to any other taquerias because they all serve scary meat (you know the kind that’s all jacked up on hormones and additives) but not at Porque Non. They don’t mess around, using really good ingredients. Good value too. They do a great job staffing – the counter waitrons are very sharp.

  54. Jack Jackson says

    I checked out the Hawthorne location one day and had high hopes. I thought everthing was way too small for the four dollar cost, when I can get a taco that’s double the size at Los Gorditos down the street for less than half of that. I had two fish tacos and with a drink it was ten bucks! Service was okay I guess except i sat there and watched my food get cold in the servers window while I sat at the bar and watched one girl rearrange a bunch of decorations a bunch of times instead of bringing me my food.

    • says

      I don’t eat ‘scary meat’ (any meat that I don’t know where it came from, therefore I assume its jacked w. hormones and antibiotics) so I don’t touch the roach coaches. yes they’re cheap but do you really want to eat that pink slime we read about? That said PQN is a fine value. BTW I actually used some scary ground beef from Cash n Carry for a donated taco buffet for a homeless shelter and it was so rude (pink slime!) I wouldn’t even taste it for seasoning, just sniffed. Next time I’ll get something better even as a donation.

        • says

          I take it you are being sarcastic? Don’t sell me so short, I was helping out a friend provide food for a warming shelter, she already had the funky meat. In these times there is more suffering than normal out there, everybody can get off their butts and help at least a little.

  55. T-Bird says

    As my wife and I came here from Seattle on our anniversary this summer, and now live in NW PDX, we shout everytime we roll a past this place “POR QUE HELL NO!” The food was frightful, but I should have guessed when we tasted onions in our sangria—because someone cut the fruit with the onion knife. I won’t get into nitty gritty details, but I’ll say this, bring your left over Top Ramen flavor packets for a added plus!

    • Laura says

      LOL! Our thoughts exactly! I had a “bowl” that was overpriced and bland,even with salsa from the salsa bar. Had the oniony sangria experience, too.

  56. Michelle says

    This place is very hit and miss. I have wondered why there is always a line out the door when I go there, and have decided the reason is because there really are no other stand out cheap mexican restaurants on Hawthorne or Mississippi where you can order a drink and have a decent atmosphere. Their food is fine, but I’ve never been like, wow this is so great. Location, location, location.

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