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Let’s Taco-Bout It

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by Jessica Rojas, NECN 

I go to different taquerias,for different reasons. So I gotta talk about (taco-bout) a few of my faves. 

La Sirenita: The Everyday Staple Taco
For taquerias in Northeast, La Sirenita on NE 28th and Alberta is the OG Veterano, home of the affordable comida since day one. I can still remember the humble beginnings of that location, which back then was a small store with a jukebox that played oldies and had a food cart outside. The elder who first owned the building took me and my sisters in as family, and I worked there in the store side (tiendita). The family that made the food and ran the kitchen was separate from the store. Over the years, I watched three generations work the front counter of their kitchen. My old time favorite: Black bean tostada and salsa verde. 

What I value so much about them is that when I did not have the money to eat, sometimes they just fed me, saying, “you need to eat.” That is a part of our culture, to take care of our community through food and hospitality. And to this day, most people of Northeast know of La Sirenita as an affordable, consistent provider of quality Mexican food. It’s a business anchor of Alberta Street, one that makes me feel at home when I see the image of the little mermaid – la sirenita. 

For the full experience, be sure to stop by and visit Angel’s Donuts and Ice Cream next door afterwards. 

Santo Domingo: The Sunday Taco
When it’s Sunday and I am most likely visiting my dad, he is going to want a carne asada burrito. By this point in the week I’ve had my staple and work tacos, but there is something more I crave. That is when I go to Santo Domingo on NE 42nd and Killingsworth. My main motivation: chicken mole tacos and steak fajitas. I like to say, “don’t cheat yourself- treat yourself.” Sunday is a good day for sour cream anyways. The parking isn’t the greatest but it is close to the bus line on an up-and-coming new main street, 42nd Ave. The menu will not disappoint you. 

Taco Machine: Taco Truck Love
Taco Machine on NE 16th and Killingsworth is my local taco truck. They have the carne asada fries and potato or mushroom tacos for the moments I don’t feel like eating meat.  All for a very good price. Let’s support this small business; I would like to see them expand their hours as this part of Killingsworth grows. 

She has the classics at a good price. This is where I go when I am ready to eat/”hangry”. Sometimes I will write a (always nice) message on her whiteboard which is decorated in messages of gratitude from their many loyal visitors. Please support this small business and ensure they can stay a part of our affordable food community. 

La Taq: Bougie New-Style Taco
I have to give a shout out to La Taq, also on NE 16th and Killingsworth. Their food is not the average taqueria experience. While a little higher in price, I find the puffy brisket and the poblanos rajas tacos reminding me of something amazing I once had in Espanola, New Mexico. 

With this fancy taco bar, the outdoor seating situation, quality passion fruit margarita and good service they provide me and my furry friend Ramone (who is the Four-Legged Fur King of Killingsworth), made me a customer. When I like people-watching with some eclectic food that has a sort of Portland emo vibe, this is where I do it at.

Jessica Rojas is NECN’s resident tacomentarian and a known taco-anthropologist, following the motto “tacos over vatos.” Beyond a statement, it is a lifestyle.