El Pato Feliz: Yet Another SE Portland Mexican Restaurant
The restaurant is located on SE 92nd Avenue (faces 92nd avenue, just north of Foster Road) about halfway between SE Ramona and SE Foster Road. There is a small parking lot on the north side that is difficult to get out off, but easy to get into.
There is nothing exceptional about the location, other than the bright red brick exterior.
The environment is a little on the bland side (not like, say, the forced environment created by huge murals such as some of the Mexican restaurants in Portland), but the big cushioned bench seats in the booths are at least quite comfortable. The environment also isn't quite as bland as El Cazador. El Pato Feliz has at least attempted to create some personality to its decorations by adding hanging plants and wall hangings of fruits. On the other hand, there is only so much that can be done in these old Portland diner facilities, and they have done a lot with the space and resources available.
The hours seem a little strange to me. As many times as I have gone past this place, sometimes it seems to close very early compared to the hours claimed on the door. Other times it has closed quite a bit later than those listed. The official closing time listed is around 10 PM.
The location is convenient to Interstate 205, and far closer than any of the restaurants listed on the freeway sign (which list McDonalds and Arbey's which are way over on 82nd Avenue). however, this is no drive-through restaurant.
It is quite popular for the size, and I have been in here when all of the tables are occupied.
The parking lot is difficult to get into if you are southbound on SE 92nd Avenue. If you are southbound on 92nd, I suggest parking across the street (southbound side of SE 92nd Avenue) on the streetside parking - if there is space there.
The "price per person" and "about average" ratings are based on the amount of food that can be obtained for the price given.
I have also been impressed with how fast the food does arrive, at least most of the time.
I suggest not using a credit or debit card here. The system used by the restaurant prints the full card number on the merchant copy of the receipt. There are, unfortunately, many restaurants in the Portland area that have that feature, and this is one of them. Until they change to a different system, I really suggest only using cash. It is much too easy to lift the numbers off of a receipt like this.
Favorite Dish: I have no particular favorites here. The food is of reasonable quality, but as far as I'm concerned not worthy of any large accolades as well. It is reasonably priced and fairly good, which suits the neighborhood just fine. The restaurant seems to be fairly popular with the local Mexican crowd, so perhaps the problem is my taste in Mexican food rather than the food available at El Pato Feliz.
I didn't find anything extremely special about the food here, but VT Member Psymonetta tells me that "The key to appreciating El Pato Feliz is to stay away from tacos and burritos and go straight to the more authentic items like their excellent Posole. They also have (chica) Coke bottled in Mexico made with cane sugar rather than corn syrup."
I would also point out (as you can see in one of the photos) that El Pato Feliz has a few other Mexican drinks as well, including various flavors of Jarritos, and in the summertime two freezers worth of ice cream crammed into their little restaurant.
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El Cazador: Good and Economical Mexican
Most of the meal deals here are a very good deal in terms of price for what you get. Prices range from $4 to $9, depending on what you order.
A discount is offered on refills on drinks if you are actually eating in the restaurant. If you are next door at the laundramat and just come over here to get a soft drink, they aren't quite as generous with the drinks.
Depending on how busy it is that day and how much food you order, the food can come reasonably quickly.
As a further benefit to those blasting through Lents on I-205, El Cazador is closer to I-205 than any of the restaurants advertised on the signs on the freeway.
The decor inside is fairly plain. The good news is that it isn't some ugly attempt to recreate Mexican architecture in the Pacific Northwest. At the same time, this sure doesn't look like a Mexican restaurant at first glance at the inside.
The restaurant is sometimes also listed as Taqueria El Cazador
Favorite Dish: The Burrito Plate, at $6.50, is a nice heaping pile of food for that price.
Many of the dishes here are good values.
Unfortunately, the vegetarian options are a little limited but in the Portland area it never hurts to ask about having something cooked vegetarian.
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JC Rice & Noodle Company: Buy Here or Prepare at Home?
While this place has a few tables in the front entry and it is conceivable that someone could come and eat here, and cooked meals are prepared here, cookware or even chopsticks are not provided and it appears that JC is completely unprepared to have people eat inside it, despite the tables.
In reality, this is a miniature Asian rice, noodle and soy factory that sells various rice and noodle preparations, but has about 10 or so pre-cooked meals they will offer as well. They are therefore not particularly prepared to have people eat inside, other than having tables for it. You should therefore bring your own chop sticks and/or silverware if you plan to eat indoors here.
Instead, when you ask for any of the several dishes, they will cook it and give it to you in a styrofoam container (not the most environmentally sensitive packaging, but it is what they do).
I found it somewhat difficult to understand the woman who took my order, and if I spoke her language it may have been possible to let her know that I was wanting to eat inside, but it just didn't seem to work that well.
There is a $0.50 fee for use of a credit or debit card.
Favorite Dish: shrimp stir fry for $8.50 provides a huge heap of food that is a great value.
Pho Vietnam: Culture Clash
82nd Avenue is almost entirely a visual horror, and unfortunately this little restaurant suffers a bit from its location in just one of many mass produced shopping plazas along this road that all look the same, have little decoration, and are surrounded by very ugly parking lots.
Be that as it may, the and despite the poor reviews that some have given it, I have not had any trouble with the food at this restaurant. Though, I ate inside rather than had take out, and the people I have heard complaining about the food quality usually had something to do with the take-out being cold by the time they got home.
Also, despite the name, I didn't order the Pho, but opted for one of the other dishes. The pho is, ironically, one of the items that has been given poor reviews by some.
While there is basically nothing worthwhile to look at out the window while you are eating here, the interior is reasonably well maintained (unlike a few places in the surrounding neighborhood) and at least has some of the decorations you would expect in a Vietnamese restaurant.
The noise selection is a bit unfortunate too. When I first arrived there, they were playing some really nice Vietnamese music that was quite enjoyable, but when news time came around it was apparently thought that I would prefer to hear the news, and so up came the volume on the overhead TV. I really would have preferred the music, but soon other customers came in and they probably preferred the news over the music.
Favorite Dish: I do wish I could remember what I had when I ate here, as I did find it pretty good. As I remember it was a mixture of vegetables and shrimp and cost about $8.50.
Salt and Pepper: Trailer with Good Peruvian and Mexican
Located in the parking lot of an apartment building at SE 83rd and Woodstock (north side of Woodstock), as it typical of street vendors there is nowhere to wash your hands or use a restroom. However, the food is decent, and there are a number of Mexican style options. However, based on the opinions of the owner and cook, his Peruvian food is really better than the Mexican.
There are a number of tables with umbrellas, and the menu posted on the side of the trailer gives you a good idea of what you are going to get.
Tina's Corner: Lents Home for "Grumpy Old Men" Type Dining
"Grumpy Old Men" is a movie that takes place in a small town where ice fishing is most popular. Tina's Corner may be a place to eat, but for the most part the staff is most excited to talk about fishing expeditions. If you like fishing, you will be entertained by the stories given by most of the male staff working here.
The food, like most of the restaurants in the community of Lents, is nothing extremely special. However, they do serve breakfast all day. Most of the food items here are of the type you would find in the typical pub, but in an old neighborhood diner type environment rather than a neighborhood pub. Vegetarian dishes are very hard to find here, but there are one or two plus sea food plus a few salads and soups that might fit vegetarian requirements.
The restaurant used to be one of the only places in Lents open 24 hours, but some months ago this was changed to 6 am to 9 pm, all days.
The interior contains an eclectic mixture of odds and ends collected from the 1940s through 1960s, with a few modern items thrown in.
The restaurant is especially known for its pies.
Favorite Dish: Any of the milkshakes made from real ice cream will allow you to gain a lot of weight but thoroughly enjoy doing so.
The mushroom burger ($7.25 with fries) is a decent plate of food for the price.
Burgerville: Fast Food near the Freeway
A small chain scattered throughout Oregon and Washington, Burgerville is celebrating its 50th year of serving food in the Northwest. While many of its restaurants are up to date in their services offered (including compostable plastic straws and cups), they also retain some 1960s styling in their restaurants to give them a unique atmosphere.
This one at SE 92nd and Powell has an antique bubble-top gas pump in the corner that has been converted into a small display case.
The standard issue historic photographs of the area that usually are on at least a few walls of any Burgerville are absent here.
There are two outdoor seating areas. The one behind the restaurant is hidden from the traffic noise on Powell and 92nd, but somewhat closer to Interstate 205 - but that traffic noise is somewhat muffled. The seating area on the "front" side of the restaurant faces the horrific noise of the Powell and 92nd intersection, but has better natural lighting.
What would a Burgerville be without a juke box? Virtually all of them have these things, and while the typical juke box is modern (if you look closely you will see that many of the decorations are plastic) it is also reasonably well used.
Behind the counter you will find that many of the staff of the Burgerville here know eachother and spend some time joking with eachother while they work. The laughter that you hear back there is a pleasant switch from the drone like employees of so many chain fast food restaurants.
Favorite Dish: It is best to go for the seasonal selections, such as the various milk shakes made from regional fresh fruit.
Helpful tip for those watching their diet: you can order a milkshake with non-fat frozen yogurt instead of "real true ice cream" and save some 240 calories.
I like their Spicy Anasazi burger (a vegetarian selection), which has enough spice to be interesting but not so much that it is intolerable to those of us who usually go for the very mild food selections.
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Don Pedro #3: Mexican with a Drive Through Window
As a general rule, restaurants along 82nd Avenue though this part of town fall into two categories:
1) Junky looking local restaurants that make you wonder about the sanitary conditions in the kitchen before even walking into the restaurant.
2) Branches of very large fast food chains where you know the quality of the food isn't that great.
Don Pedro is one of the exceptions to this. Built in an old building that was once a member of a large national chain, Don Petro is a locally owned chain. It has enough of the required features of a restaurant along 82nd Avenue to fit in with the fast food chains (such as a drive through window) but also has the huge proportions and better quality food that set it apart from the big national chains just down the road.
The restaurant is reasonably attractive on the outside - compared to the average locally owned restaurant along 82nd Avenue. Furthermore they have done a very good job of insulating the glass so that the traffic noise from the outside doesn't invade the restaurant.
Favorite Dish: There is a burrito plate that is a huge plate of food for $7.70.
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