Nuevo Mexico

Nuevo Mexico

Nuevo Mexico

CLOSED 10/2011
N Mississippi and Skidmore (Mississippi Marketplace)


You may think this is another taco cart review. Sure you jest. Nuevo Mexico is a food cart cuisine we have yet to discover in Portland. While the food does have Mexican influences, it is New Mexican. And with Jesse Sandoval, who worked in a food cart with his mom at the age of 12, in the kitchen, you know it is going to be tasty. Oh, and Jesse was the drummer for The Shins to boot.

I ventured down to Nuevo Mexico today at lunch, along with many others who have been awaiting its opening for a few weeks. I didn’t honestly know what I was in for. I new it wasn’t going to be traditional Mexican fare. The menu is pretty simple with only a few items on it. I like that because it makes deciding so much simpler. I sometimes wish I could walk up to a place and they would tell me what I was going to eat instead of me having to choose. While I waited to order, a group of people received their orders of Sopapillas. That is the first item on the menu and what I was going to order and just seeing it sold me. A sopapilla is made with pressed dough that is then deep fried until golden brown. It then puffs up, creating a perfect vessel for stuffing. The sopapilla I ordered was the carne adovada which is described as a “traditional New Mexican pork in adobo sauce.” Marinated Pork? Sold! This carne is served with some beans, lettuce and cheese to fill out the sopapilla. It was so good. I know adobo can sometimes be hot spicy, but in this case, the spiciness was more flavorful and not overpowering. The sopapilla pocket, while it is deep fried wasn’t greasy, but more light and fluffy. And Jesse was making them from scratch.

Carne Adovada Sopapilla

Normally I venture off to eat my lunch at a park or back at the office. Today I stuck around and listened to all the well wishers come by and welcome Nuevo Mexico to the neighborhood. Jesse hopes to eventually offer some breakfast burritos, so watch for those in the near future.

I love being introduced to new flavors and spices and other ways people prepare their food. Jesse grew up in an environment where cart food was paramount and worked with his mother and grandmother for years. Some of that expertise obviously rubbed off. Welcome to the neighborhood Nuevo Mexico.

Sample Menu:

  • Carne Adovada Sopapilla – $5.50
  • Sopapilla with beef, beans, green chilis – $5
  • Carne Adovada Burrito – $5
  • Beef beans and green chili burrito – $4.50
  • Green chile chicken stew – $4
  • Sweet Lunas (a small sopapilla with honey and powdered sugar) – $3
  • Mexican Coca Cola – $2

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday,noon-whenever people stop coming (usually between 5-7pm)
Contact: Nuevo Mexico on Facebook
Twitter: @NuevoMexicoPDX



  1. Walked 13 blocks today only to find the cart closed, with no explanation.

    Having grown up in northern New Mexico, this confirms for me that the cart is authentic New Mexican.

    Manana, por la manana.

  2. He’s up and running again. Good carne!

  3. This is the food cart of former The Shins drummer Jesse Sandoval!

  4. Just wanted to note there is also a vegetarian sopapilla option for $4.50 (as well as a veggie burrito). I got it on Friday – I think it came with pintos, salsa, chiles, lettuce, and cheese. I assume this could be easily made vegan without the cheese (but ask first).

    I’d never had a sopapilla before, and I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. It was really tasty and fluffy – not greasy, like the review says. Good flavorful filling – a little kick of spice. Overall not too heavy, I was sated but not drowsy! Important factor for a workday meal.

    Don’t go if you’re in a rush, as these are made to order (and so far, just Jesse working), there was a bit of a wait. Plus, many of the customers seemed to be friends of his, so lots of chatting going on.

    Jesse gave me a sample of the sweet lunas – yum, reminded me of country fair food (in a good way!). A small triangle of sweet puffy pastry laced with honey & powdered sugar – like a bite size elephant ear. Topped it off with a Mexican Coke (in a bottle) – so refreshing.

  5. Time to post some hours. I walked here on a Monday lunchtime and it was closed for no posted reason with no clue of when they are open.

  6. If you can find out the hours, let me know and I’ll post them. Until then, and as I always advise people; if you really want to visit a specific cart it is always a good idea to call first to check if and when they are open from day to day. Carts often have volatile hours. I’ve learned this from experience.

  7. Decent advice Cuisine Bonne Femme – if there was a posted phone number.

  8. yeah, a phone number would help wouldn’t it? Anyone know?

  9. I didn’t see a number, but I asked the guy today what the official hours were. The answer: 11 am – 4 pm every weekday as long as he doesn’t run out of dough. Apparently, he arrived to the cart yesterday to find that someone had unhooked his gas line and let all his fuel run out, so he couldn’t make anything.

  10. Thanks for the update Kody. I think it is important to remember that it is sometimes hard for the carts – they are often one man or one woman operations with limited resources and extra challenges (like the above fuel line vandalism).

  11. I ate there for the first time today….great sopapilla…but I’m always a bit fussy about “bare hands” handling all that stuff that I’m going to be eating…especially when those bare hands are touching so many other things,including money, etc.

  12. boriskat says

    I ate here for the first time today (lived in NM so always craving green chile!). I was very pleased with the QUALITY of the sopaipilla but not the QUANTITY. It seems like a snack rather than a whole lunch. I have been back to my desk for an hour and I’m already hungry again…

  13. they were closed for friday lunch today? anybody know what’s up?

  14. Great story on them in the latest MIX: … but … I tried to go there last Tuesday (July 14) and they weren’t open then either. I wish Jesse would at least post a sign explaining why the cart’s closed.

  15. Caroline says

    Just got back from trying a stuffed sopaipilla from this cart, and all I can say is FINALLY! Finally, a tiny oasis of New Mexico flavor in this town. As a native New Mexican, I have tried and been sorely disappointed with the two restaurants who have tried their hands at New Mexico cooking, The Adobe Rose in Sellwood and Encanto in North Portland. The thing they never got right was the GREEN CHILE. This new cart got everything right, from the flavor and hot spiciness of their green chile sauce, to the flavor and texture of the beans, to the light crispiness of the sopaipilla. I am a New Mexican transplant who goes to great lengths to get my green chile from Hatch every year and roasts and freezes it so that I can have my chile throughout the year. I have often wondered why no one has opened a restaurant serving the soul food of New Mexico and can only surmise that obtaining the right ingredients from the food service companies in town would be a deterrent. Where are they getting their chiles? The only complaint that I have is that there needs to be more items to choose from, like maybe blue corn green chile enchiladas with a fried egg on top, or some posole! I realize these might surpass the capabilities of a small cart, but a girl can dream can’t she? I have a good feeling that they could do these dishes justice. So, KUDOS and THANK YOU, to the Nuevo Mexico cart, you got it right!!! — Your new regular customer

  16. Just ate at Nuevo Mexico. The hungry man that I am ate two lunches. I ordered the carne adovada sopapilla first. It was slow roasted, shredded seasoned pork with pintos, tomato, cheese, and lettuce in a fried, crispy flour tortilla. Delicious but I was still hungry and wanted to try another item I ordered the green chile chicken stew. This was SPICY! Had pintos, green chiles, tomatoes, chicken chunks, and potatoes. Topped with cheddar cheese. My mouth is still cooling down 15 mins later. I am nourished & satisfied. Spent $9.50 on lunch though.

  17. Ummm….went today and the cart was closed once again. Really disappointed because I was in the mood for some sopapillas. There is a note stating that he is moving the cart soon. Does anyone have any information about this??

  18. yeah, it was on OregonLive today…both him and a new Sugar Cube are moving to that new cart pod on Mississippi. Should open in September per the article.

  19. Over all I enjoyed the food. It mostly new to me, I enjoy it though. Growing up around families of Latin and Native backgrouonds this food seemed familiar to me. The sopapias (yummy) are basically indian fry bread and the “adovada” is just like the very tasty Mexican beef “adobada”. Seems like they just changed the letter in the Southwest.

    I think this place is great to start for those wanting to explore new foods and this can be a bridge to being more experimental with traditional Mexican and Native American food.

    Give yourself some time when going. Sometimes it can be busy or people just visiting and hanging around. Oh and these are not normal business hours. Make sure to check before you go.

  20. Jesse’s mom’s Carne Adovada is legendary in Albuquerque, NM so I can imagine that it is delicious. I am dooling just Thinking about it. Way to go Jesse.

  21. is this cart even open any more?? what is the story?

    not to gripe, but i was by today (wednesday) at 2pm and it was closed. i live about 4 blocks away and it *seems* like i barely ever see it open.

    i understand its winter and all, and food carts can have, um, less than reliable schedule… but places like koi fusion have set the bar high with keeping in touch with “the people”. nuevo mexico website is still devoid of info (and says they are downtown), their facebook page hasnt been touched since before xmas (and that was by fans, not them) and still says they are open wednesdays (not today), and, probably most frustrating, there is never so much as a hand-scrawled note on the cart.

    where is the love??! i just wanna eat some yummy food? or a little note somewhere about wassup….

  22. looking for carne says

    Stopped by the cart POD on Mississippi today looking to try Nuevo Mexico. No luck, closed. In looking at all of these comments, it sounds like its closed more often than not. Too bad, as it seems impossible to figure out when its actually open. Not knocking the vegan thing, but when you’re itching for carne and all that is available at the POD across 4 carts is vegan food, its kind of depressing.

  23. can't get a taco says

    Every site has different hours posted for this cart. I’ve been by several times when it claims to be open but what do you know, closed.

    I work during the week til 5 ( shocker, I know ), even if I try and swing by on they way home, CLOSED! Every weekend, CLOSED!

    Am I going to have to wait for summer for you to be open???

    Jesse, if you’re reading this, open your damn cart!!!

  24. Hey all! Just wanted to let everyone know that Nuevo Mexico will now be open more often than not! mondays and tuesdays are generally prep days though ocassionally will open. Wed through sun the cart opens at noon and will stay open until people stop wanting food, generally between 5 and 7. When it starts heating up the cart will stay open longer. So come on by and get your Carne on!!!!
    Hope this helps!

  25. what do you expect? says

    of course its randomly closed and the food is overpriced, bland and inconsistent. you know this guy?

    like too many bland beans wrapped up in an old tortilla? then order any of the meat items!!!

  26. wow harsh. hopefully not everyone shares an experience like the above when visiting this cart. I personally can’t get enough of the green chili…..or sopapillas. If you feel the food is too bland, don’t hesitate to ask for extra chili sauce! he doesnt charge for it. i love the carne adovada, though it does sell fast and some days isnt available. but you cant please everyone i guess!

  27. nuevo mexico is on facebook and jesse updates every day to let people know when he will be open

  28. The food was incredibly bland, the burrito and Sopapilla were awful. maybe it was because the owner was not there.
    Sorry won’t be back to this place.

  29. Having lived in New Mexico for years I can say this is a terrible version of New Mexican food. Bland beans and stale and dry rice. I have gone back several times to try and satiate my NM cravings and have only been dissapointed.

  30. I’ve been so excited to try Nuevo Mexico, having moved here from Albuquerque ten years ago.

    They were slated to be at Eat Mobile, but we couldn’t find them there.

    One week later, we drove to the Mississippi/Skidmore location to find that Nuevo Mexico was closed until May 5th.

    I’m labeling this cart unpredictable. We will try it, but we won’t be expecting them to be where they say they’ll be and we won’t ever make a special trip to them again.

  31. There is an article on Jesse’s food cart in Sunday’s Albuquerque Journal, however the article does not mention it’s location. My daughter lives in the area and would like to find the cart since she misses the N.M. food she grew up eating. Hopefully, the cart is still at the Mississipi location as we plan on visiting her in June and would like to visit Jesse.

  32. I went to the food cart festival and found Nuevo Mexico on the corner next to the bathrooms serving up some amazing carne adovada! sorry you missed them!

  33. I hate to be a downer, but this place sucks. After my experience yesterday, I probably will swear off the foodcart for a long, long time. Upon my arrival at the much-hyped Mississippi Marketplace, some barker yells, “Sweet or salty?” The delightful assult of competition, always a perfect way to begin a casual lunch.

    Then, decide to try the Nuevo Mexico cart. Handy menu with helpful sections crossed-out in ink. Keep it classy, dudes. Further, I asked about the tamales. They said they couldn’t serve them today because they weren’t able to fly them into Portland. Really? The whole point of a restaurant is to make the food yourself. If I wanted frozen, warmed-over tamales, I would order them from Santa Fe myself. Upon further reflection, my upset with this exchange cuts to the very heart of the issue. A restaurant or foodcart is supossed to make their own food, especially those that cultivate the mystic of authentic and high-end aspirations. That’s why we give you money. I understand that tamales are time-consuming and require extraordinary skill and dedication to craft. These are the reason why almost everyone loves them and nurture the highest respect for the people who make them. The fact that your cart doesn’t even try to make their own speaks volume to the low level of passion and dedication to traditonal New Mexican cuisine.

    This realization makes the subsequent experience with Neuvo Mexico more understandable. After I placed my order, I was instructed that it would take about fifteen minutes. I sat in a nasty parking lot, looking at tables that probably hadn’t been cleaned in days. Loved the hair glued to the top with some sugar sauce! Finally, I hear my name. I shouldn’t have been to excited. I was handed a couple of paper containers of glop with shreds of what can only be described as waxy, tasteless American cheese product. Oh, and the pozole. Call me a traditionalist, but when I ask for pozole, I expect a nice, rich pork stew. Not some thin, funky chicken gruel. Chicken? Really? Is this bait and switch, or was I the lucky receipient of an easy way to get rid the food that no one else wanted to eat for the last few days?

    Based on my observations yesterday, the Nuevo Mexico foodcart is just a bad value. So bad that I might give up on the whole foodcart thing entirely. What’s the point really? Am I missing something? Medicore food in an unpleasant atmosphere at near-premium prices. Maybe if I was drunk….

  34. I’ve came here twice whice took me 40 mins to get here and both time the cart closed. I’m very very disappointed. Are you guys still in business?

  35. Just wanted to say that Jesse Sandoval is a beautiful man, everything he creates is magic.

    He is a amazing musician, and he is a equally amazing cook.

    Went by for lunch the other day and had a Navajo taco. REALLY good! I have spent a bit of time in New Mexico and it is by far my favorite variation of Mexican food. I have spent time in all of the border states, I have eaten lots of Mexican food.

    Add to that Jesse is just a sweet sweet guy. I was eating my taco and he zoomed out of the back of his trailer to run a errand and I caught him and told him the food was amazing, and he stopped to chat with me. Told him I was planning a food cart and had just come up from TX and spent some time in NM on the way. He told me if I ever had any questions about food carts feel free to stop by to chat.

    AMAZING guy! If you want great food from a great guy, stop by Nuevo Mexico!

    To bad he isn’t single……

  36. judas_priest says


    On the menu it’s spelled “posole,” not “pozole.” That might have clued you in that it might me a somewhat different dish from what you had in mind. Back in the (New Mexico) days when I still ate pork, posole was generally served as almost soup-like.

    I don’t know why you thought it was chicken – the menu specifies pork – unless it was an experiment. On those rare occasions I actually make it these days I do use chicken thighs. (Just got some Hatch green chile, so I might make it soon.)

    This is a food cart area. Expecting restaurant like cleaned tables may be too much.

    BTW, although the comment was a long time ago, “chili” is a Tejano dish with beans beef (most of the time), and a red chile sauce. The vegetable is spelled “chile.”

  37. SheptheTaoseno says

    One of my buddies from Taos just told me about this place and said it was pretty good. I’m going to hun it down now. After reading about the pasole, I’m getting excited. I’m a transplant from NM and my favorite thing about PDX so far is the food carts so this should really top it off (or ruin it I suppose).

  38. Came by today around noon, and found it closed. Asked around (I wanted to use a MercPerk), and it seems Nuevo Mexico’s been closed for a couple weeks now. RIP


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