Lunch in Portland yum tacos yum tacos yum pizza yum pad thai yum pad thai Subscribe to my feed
Subscribe to my Twitter feed

¿Por Qué No?

October 22nd, 2009


4635 SE Hawthorne

¿Por Qué No? on Urbanspoon

Price for 2 (with tip): $21.50

¿Por Qué No? is one of those places that the hipsters in Portland will tell you is the most amazing place around. And why wouldn’t they, “why not” is the name of the restaurant after all. With two locations in the hip areas of Hawthorne and Mississippi, happy hour drinks, and seemingly cheap food, all served up in a casually-busy decor, Por Que No is a total hipster dream come true. Unfortunately, it’s not actually very good.

The food at ¿Por Qué No? is definitely not trying to be authentic Mexican (despite the over use of Spanish) but is more tex-mex style. Honestly, on previous visits I remember the food being a high point of my experience, (compared to the wait, the ambiance, the price, etc) but today I was not impressed with a single thing I ate. I ordered a horchata, which is “house made.” By definition horchata is a bit of a gritty beverage (basically cinnamon rice milk) but this was hands down the worst horchata I have ever had. It left me feeling like I attempted to swallow a glass of sand, but it was nicely garnished with fresh cinnamon! Oh yeah, and one glass costs $3, and there’s no booze in that ($3 more gets you rum.)

On to the food. We ordered chips and salsa (not free) which took a solid 5 minutes to make it to our table. The chips are thick-cut homemade tortilla chips and are probably the best thing to come out of the kitchen. That said, the cooking of them is fairly inconsistent and one bite will be too hard to bite through and the next totally chewy. I got two tacos, a pescado (cornmeal-crusted snapper, sour cream, cabbage, salsa, onion, cilantro and pineapple) and a basic carne asada. Now I am all for creative takes on basic food, which is why I ordered the pescado. And it while was the better of the two tacos, didn’t actually include any pineapple (maybe they they were out?), and just tasted like spicy cornmeal. The carne asada taco was just a bummer. Not tender, not flavorful, just a tortilla filled with chewy beef that left my hands covered in red salsa.

The vegetarian got a bean and rice bowl: beans, rice, sour cream, guacamole, “salsa fresca” and three tortillas. I asked him how it compared to other times he’s had the same thing to make sure I wasn’t just having an off day. “I’ve never thought that place was very good,” he replied.

As if sub par food was reason enough never to go to ¿Por Qué No? again, there is constantly a line stretching out the door, and even though they will take your drink order before you reach the counter to make you feel like you’re not waiting as long, it doesn’t actually speed things up any. And during prime lunch hours, you are forced to sit uncomfortably close to yuppies, as either the hipsters have figured out that paying $3 for a tiny taco you could get at Pepino’s for $.99 isn’t a good deal, or they only frequent this place at Happy Hour. But no matter when you go, it doesn’t change the fact that it just isn’t good.

Veggie options: as mediocre as the meat options

Speed: Hurry up and wait



chips and salsa

chips and salsa

Bean and rice bowl

Bean and rice bowl

carne asada taco/pescado taco

carne asada taco/pescado taco



7 Responses to “¿Por Qué No?”

  1. karla Says:

    was that the Bryan’s Bowl that the vegetarian got? i can’t really tell by the picture for some reason and the description seemed a little different…anyways, i enjoy the veganized Bryan’s Bowl (about $6.50) that i get there and i like going there for happy hour when their normally somewhat-overpriced pint-sized delicious margaritas are $7. i like their homemade corn tortillas and have yet to have the chip consistency problem.

    but i do understand how someone would be underwhelmed by the place, it’s way overhyped.

  2. admin Says:

    Hey Karla, that wasn’t the Bryan’s Bowl, just the bean and rice. I’ve heard several people say that the Bryan’s Bowl is good though. Are you really excited about a $7 margarita though? Check out La Carreta, top shelf margs are like $6, all the time.

  3. karla Says:

    you know, come to think of it, i think have been to La Carreta. they’re the ones that have a crazy amount of decorations for every holiday, right? my friend had a birthday dinner there. i didn’t care for the food but they seemed to have good deals on alcohol. i was driving so i didn’t drink.

    i buy $7 pint drinks sometimes at Bye & Bye and i wouldn’t say the margaritas are as good, but they’re still tasty, delicious, and strong. and por que no is a lot closer than La Carreta. :o )

  4. karla Says:

    gosh, i hate when they mess with my smiley faces and make them into Smileys…

  5. admin Says:

    haha that’s the place. I can see for a vegan La Carreta wouldn’t be that awesome. Actually the last two times we’ve gone Jared’s ended up with chicken on his bean tostada, but being a carnivore, i think it’s good. they definitely have good drinks, and it’s only far out if you live close in. I’m a deep southeaster myself!

    The Bye and Bye, now there’s a drink that even for $8 is a good value. One of those and I am on my ass.

  6. Lea Says:

    i’ve come to the conclusion that horacha is the miricle hangover cure.

  7. Catherine Says:

    I thought the food sucked and took way too long. Which made it shocking that there were so many people there. Absolutely nothing exciting about a bland bowl of rice & beans that you have to order at a counter. I’m always flabbergasted at bad mexican food because it is really so simple to make delicious.

Leave a Reply