Bailey’s and Santeria go together like milk and cookies

I’ve certainly mentioned Bailey’s Taproom often enough, but I may not have mentioned that almost every time we go there, we also get the best Mexican we have found in Portland so far, Santeria. Sure, it’s a hole in the wall, hidden between Mary’s and convenience store and Tugboat and Bailey’s along a tiny street. But, they are fast, delicious, and deliver to your table at Bailey’s as you are enjoying the inevitable taster tray because Bailey’s has rotated their taps (as they do every week) and now there are a dozen new beers you may not have had before. No wonder we come here weekly. This time though, we tried to capture the experience with our guests.

When you walk into Bailey’s first grab a table. There a lot of 2-tops and only a few that can comfortably fit more. Ignore the armchairs- not if you want to eat anyway, because the tables by them are low. After you have claimed your territory, come up to the front to read the beer menu in plastic sheets. The front has all the drafts, the back is all bottles. The chalkboard also has the list of all the drafts – but the menu has more detailed descriptions of each beer on tap.

Bailey's Taproom, beer, tasting tray, sample tray

You can order a pint, or a 10 oz, or tell the good man that you want a sampler and he will give you a little sticky to write down your do it yourself tray. Order by number!

Bailey's Taproom, beer, tasting tray, sample tray

Once you have your liquid deliciousness safely at your table, now is the time to get the solid delicious stuff. You can actually grab a Santeria menu from the barkeep and call your order, but we like to walk across that little alley in order to see what the specials are and see what is available, and that way when they come deliver your order they can find you since there is a good chance the delivery person has already seen you. After you order, hurry back to plot how you are going to fit the food and drinks on the table. In this photo below, the left side of the table ordered single tacos so it came on a smaller plate, but the food are usually the size of the platters you see on the right.

Bailey's Taproom, beer, tasting tray, sample tray Santeria, mexican food,

One thing Santeria does well are mole. Also, their tinga is outstanding- it is chicken or a vegan version using soy chorizo, cooked to a nice spicy burn with cooked with chorizo, tomatillo’s, onions, tomatoes, and chipotle peppers. Add mole and tinga for a super combination of spicy flavor bursting with every bite- you’ll need the rice and beans to give your tongue a break. And your beer of course. Below are Mole enchiladas with tinga in brown mole sauce.

Mole enchiladas with tinga in brown mole sauce, Santeria, mexican

If you can’t decide what kind of meat you want, try the First Class Flight which includes 3 tacos, one each of the Tinga taco, Pastor taco (sweet pork cooked with onions and pineapple) and Cochinita taco (a tarter Mayan recipe with pork slow cooked in orange juice, lime, achiote and banana leaves) served with rice, beans and guacamole for a very filling meal. Alternatively, you can switch out the Tinga taco for the saltier Carnitas taco if you order the When Pigs Fly taco flight instead. Below is the First Class Flight.

Santeria, mexican, First Class Flight which includes 3 tacos, one each of the Tinga taco, Pastor taco (sweet pork cooked with onions and pineapple) and Cochinita taco (a tarter Mayan recipe with pork slow cooked in orange juice, lime, achiote and banana leaves) served with rice, beans and guacamole for a very filling meal

If you want to really absorb alcohol though, the burritos are the best choice. Thick and stuffed with alcohol absorbing deliciousness. I often get the Chorizo Burrito (filled with chorizo, eggs, cheese and pinto beans) to get lots of protein, or if I am feeling a bit sweet and spicy and no-bean please I get the Pastor Burrito with pastor, rice, cilantro and onion. More recently I’ve been getting the Fish (Pescado) Burrito with breaded cod, rice, refried beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, and sour cream because although hey, it’s a burrito, I’ve been crushing on the texture of the crunchy deep fried flaky fish inside the soft burrito. For a hint of what’s inside, it’s the same kind of fish that would use for what you see below in my fish taco (I did just eat 3/4 of a Cheesus/Quesus before I got here after all). I like to switch out the sour cream for salty Cotija cheese but when F goes over to order on my behalf he always forgets, thus you see sour cream on the taco which is the normal combination.

Santeria, Fish taco, breaded cod

If you are veggie, you can get the vegan burrito (Black beans, rice, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole)- they always bring you the green and red sauce but request the habanero one to really kick that burrito up. Or, get the burrito using veggie chorizo or vegan tinga. Below check out the vegan taco version, and the size of a burrito- in this case a vegan chorizo burrito. Another plus of the burrito is that you don’t need to manage silverware on your table and you can hold the swaddled warm burrito in one hand and your beer in another. It also can take less space because the swaddling is so good you don’t really need the plate

vegan taco, vegan taco, guacamole Santeria, vegan burrito, Black beans, rice, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole

Don’t forget to eat the carrot! It’s pickled but spicy, don’t waste it! After you are done, bus up your dishes and empty glasses to the bar where the beer dude will hold it for the Santeria person to take back, get your one beer that didn’t fit on the 6-drink sampler tray, maybe in a 10oz or pint. Don’t be surprised if you eat everything… or if you want to run back over to Santeria for a takeout container. It’s a little hole in the wall, but it’s good authentic Mexican- surprising almost everyone because the looks really are deceiving here. I didn’t even have this on the list for my guests to eat, since they were from LA I assumed good Mexican was a dime a dozen so had other food in mind- but F insisted, and since other F wanted Bailey’s anyway, this ended up working out. And… this was judged to be really good Mexican by them. In fact, this is not the first time that Santeria has heard from LA residents about how authentic and better their food is!

Now, drink, talk, play. Bailey’s has boardgames if you would like to play a game, but on my part our weekly visit is also our “lots of talking about work, the local/national/world news, gossip of our friends, etc” catch-up time that is so easy to fall out of at home when you have your own computers and TVs and one wants to play a videogame while the other wants to read a book in bed, etc. Email and Twitter and FB can’t compare to actual conversation and goofy faces. No one is there rushing us out like a date night at a restaurant, there’s no TV that inevitably draws your eyes away from the people you’re with… it is like 21st century Cheers. Actually, all the guys who run or work at Bailey’s do know our names when we go in… and we recognize many of the other regulars as they probably do us. Awww.


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