The way I understand it, Casa de Tamales started as a small snack stand at the Canby Asparagus Farm some years back. It proved very popular there, and there was a demand for a full-time restaurant featuring their food.
The Casa de Tamales in Milwaukie is the fruit of this labor.
However, the restaurant is decidedly American, and in fact Pacific Northwest eccentric, in its decoration and operation. Take a look at all the stuff on the walls!
To the right of the door as you enter the restaurant, you will notice quite a collection of food on display, in order to show you what it is that you will be getting for your price.
From what I understand, good tamales require a fair amount of time to prepare, so don't expect the food to come immediately.
There are two tables for outside eating, but alas Main Street is busy enough it isn't what I would consider a pleasant experience, though some people do eat there.
The title says it all: it wsn't so very long ago that the Portland area had perhaps a dozen or so surviving soda fountains from the roaring 20's. In the late 1990's, these started to disappear due to local drug stores being purchased by national chains. As the drug stores disappeared, so did their soda fountains.
Perry's Pharmacy had existed in downtown Milwaukie starting around 1904. Almost 100 years later, they were put out of business by a nearby Walgreen's Drug Store, who purchased their prescription list.
An antique store purchased the building, and currently operates the Soda Fountain as part of their business.
President Kennedy visited the area as a presidential candidate in the 1960s, and in front of one of the counter stools, you will see a sign that says that Kennedy sat on that particular stool. There are a few newspaper clippings on the wall that mark the occasion as well.
Update, Feb 5, 2009:
There have been a few changes since when I originally wrote this tip, on May 24, 2004. Perhaps the most important one is that VirtualTourist tips can now have up to 5 photos, rather than just one! This means I can show you the outside of the building so that you can find the place, give you an inside look at the Soda Fountain itself, and show you today's menu (both the front side and the back side).
About a year ago (that is, sometime in late 2007 or early 2008) the store underwent a change in ownership. Retail space has significantly expanded. The soda fountain has given a nod to the modern coffee craze and the two women behind the counter when I visited today where fully trained barristas, and not just some teenage ice cream scoop jockey.
Also new since spring of 2004: management of the store and of the Soda Fountain are two separate business entities. The Soda Fountain is now called "Main Street Soda Fountain" with a second line that reads "located inside the Main Street Collectors Mall" and the separate management system seems to work much better in terms of attracting customers.
Though, as of September, 2009, the store now has a jointly operated web site.....
Who cares about the corporate structure? Just come and enjoy the food. No matter what, it is still a locally owned restaurant and store.
Favorite Dish: Really, just about anything with ice cream in it is pretty good.
The "Classic Sundaes", however, are particularly good. This is not a mass-produced fast food type item, as you would find in certain other places. Instead, the server will actually ask you (or, at least, she asked all the other customers during the brief time I spent in there this afternoon) if you want chocolate sprinkles, or nuts, or whipped cream, or any of the various other toppings.
If you're really hungry, Chang's Mongolian Grill on SE McLoughlin Blvd offers all you can eat buffet asian food with a unique twist - you fill your dishes from a buffet line of frozen meats and vegetables, then follow the instructions to customize the sauce (or flavoring) from mild to hot. Then, watch as your dinner is cooked while you wait on a huge round grill.
For a more relaxed atmosphere, and some truly wonderful beer, try any of a number of McMennamins Pubs for lunch or dinner.
See description of Chang's above.
Favorite Dish: At any of the McMennamins Pubs, I recommend the Sunflower IPA (India Pale Ale) brewed on the premises - perfect with a dungeon burger.
Every Tuesday evening features live music from the 1940's and 1950's, and the age when adults went out to dinner clubs to listen to bands and lounge singers. Music starts at 7:00 pm on Tuesdays.