Reviewed: Fall, 2000
Note: Amigo's has redone the upstairs restaurant & bar and vamped up their menu since this review.
A no-frills, unassuming establishment where you get your money’s worth, Amigos Mexican Restaurant
is a favorite of Portland locals with big appetites and not so big billfolds. Matt O'Donnell is a poet and freelance writer who lives in Portland.
Just off the cobblestones of Dana St., the door to Amigos opens into a less-than-upscale bar
(which, lest my friends tell you otherwise, I’ve entered but a couple times) and a staircase. No
where to go but up, we climbed the stairs and found through a door at the top, somewhat to our
amazement, a lovely little restaurant. Fourteen tables dot the spacious room, adorned with Mexican
themed decorations. The atmosphere is clean and pleasant and, if not for walking by the windows on the way to the entrance, you’d never know the bar were below you. (Speaking of what’s below, I have to note the gorgeous original knotty pine floorboards in the dining room.)
But on to the good stuff! The food, not the flooring, is what Amigos is known for. My wife started
out with some chips and salsa, in lieu of Chips and Chile con Queso, which was unavailable this
night. The hand cut chips needed salt, and the homemade salsa seemed little more than chopped up
tomatoes. She didn’t care much for it, but my less refined tastes enjoyed the chips and salsa with
several shakes of salt. For my own appetizer, I indulged in the Algondigas Soup, what the menu
calls “A traditional Mexican favorite!” I don’t know about that, but I certainly enjoyed my cup
full of onions, tomatoes, two large meatballs, and according to the menu “a touch of mint.” I
didn’t taste even a hint of mint, thought that was of no consequence to my opinion of the soup,
enjoying it as it was. To my gringo palette, the base tasted very similar to French onion soup,
which is a favorite of mine.
Our friendly waitress, Darcey, had taken our dinner orders, and shortly after we’d finished the
appetizers, the Tostada Deluxe and Burrito Supreme were in front of us. A flour tortilla with
beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and onions, the Tostada Deluxe is available with refried or black
beans, ground beef, shredded beef, chicken, or diced pork. My wife stuck with the beans. I went for
a cholesterol boost with shredded beef in the Burrito Supreme. “This burrito is so big, we have to
serve it open faced!” the menu exclaims. It is big, I’ll give it that, and is also served with a
side of tortilla chips. Yet for all the lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, cheese, and sour cream, my
burrito was bland. It tasted only of the shredded beef, which itself was bland. All very fresh, it
simply needed some seasoning. I managed to persuade my wife into giving me a few bites of her
tostada, which was excellent, and without question the better choice of the two meals.
Her leftover tostada counted as my dessert while she saved room for a bit of Kaluha flavored flan.
Of course, I stole a couple bites of flan to chase the rest of her tostada that I had eaten, and found that I should have ordered a custard for myself as well, it was quite tasty. Our first choice for dessert
had actually been the Sopapillas, the Mexican version of a dough boy, but they’d not prepared any
this night. The fried ice cream tempted us in its stead; resolutely, we resisted all but the flan.
Everything at Amigos is large, even the menu. The appetizers section includes ten selections
ranging from the basic Chips and Salsa ($2.95) to Flour Crisps ($3.25) to Jalapeno Peppers
($4.95/6.95) to Supreme Nachos ($7.50). The main portion of the menu has all the Mexican staples:
Enchiladas, Burritos, Chimichangas, Quesadillas, Tacos, Soft Tacos, Tostadas, and many variations
thereof, as well as the unique Chili Relleno, a mild green chili pepper stuffed with cheese, fried
in a light egg batter, and served in either chicken broth or broiled in house salsa and topped with
cheese. The most expensive item on this part of the menu is a measly $5.95!
For those big spenders out there willing to shell out as much as (gasp) $9.50 for an entrée,
Fajitas, Habanero Burrito, and Chicken and Scallion Taco Salad are available starting at $7.25. Combination plates (seven to choose from) range from $5.95 to $8.25.
With a fully stocked bar at Amigos’ disposal, beer and drinks are also available.
Amigos is a fantastic place for patrons on a tight budget who still want to loosen their belts at
the dinner table. It’s the perfect place to grab a bite with friends, or even for a fun, low-key
date with your spouse. Overall, we enjoyed our Amigos experience. We’ll recommend it to friends,
and will certainly return ourselves.
|most credit cards accepted|
Two appetizers, a soda, a draft beer, two dinners, one coffee, and one dessert totaled $24.65.
Amigos in short: Good cheap Mexican food.