Location: SW 5th and Oak
Hours: Sun – Fri, 10am – 9pm
The Story: Do you know the story of Don Pedro? Sure, Don Pedro pops up as a cartoony Mexican character here and there, is the name of a lake and dam in California, is a fictional character in Shakespeare’s farcical Much Ado About Nothing, there’s a Don Pedro brand of Mexican Tequila and brandy, and we’ve even heard an opera and a rock band or or two with the same name. But who was the original Don Pedro fellow, and why are so many Mexican restaurants from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon named after him? In the Portland area alone there are at least 4 different restaurants and food carts named Don Pedro.
The original Pedro de Alvarado y Contreras was a was a Spanish conquistador and governor of Guatemala in the late 1400s and early 1500s. While you can read all about his history here, I’ll just give you the lazy Food Carts Portland version: Don Pedro was a bad ass who helped conquer the Aztecs in Mexico for Spain, and was known for his cruelty and slaughter of natives, as well as bloody sieges. Why so many Mexican restaurants and taco trucks in the U.S. are named after him is a mystery, but if anyone does know, spill the refried beans please. I’d love to know.
The food at this Don Pedro, the SW 5th cart between Oak and Stark, is standard Mexican-American taco cart fare: burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and the like. I’d say it leans more on the Americano side of the coin rather than an autentica Mexicano one, but that’s not necessarily a bad Gringo thing. Food here is hot, it’s gut filling, it’s tasty, the service is friendly, it’s affordable, and it’s fast. Just don’t expect rare gourmet regional specialties, or “alternate” fillings such as carnitas, barbacoa, or cabeza, or even fish or shrimp for that matter. Senor Pedro sticks to the basics – grilled chicken, asada (steak), or (adobada) marinated steak. The end. Sure beats that fast food chain “Taco Hell” in my book though.
For hungry breakfasters in a hurry, Don Pedro does offer Huevos Rancheros, Huevos a la Mexicano (eggs scrambled with meats and salsa), a breakfast burrito, and a wet breakfast burrito. These are big portions and I can easily get at least two meals out of one order.
For my lunchtime visit, I tried the adobada taco, and an asada mulita. Both were tasty and filling, and my whole lunch came to a whopping $2.90 – a bargain that left me full for the rest of the afternoon. You can barely even get a small cappuccino at some cafes for that price.
Don Pedro the man might have been a baddie, but Don Pedro the Portland Food Cart certainly is not. Give ‘em a chance and let your own taste buds and wallet decide.
Meat choices: Grilled chicken, steak, or marinated steak.Vegetarian versions available for many items.
- Taco – $1.25
- Burritos – $4.89 – $5.99 (depending on fillings), Vegetarian Burritos – $3.29 – $3.89
- Mulita – $1.65
- Crunchy Shell “American” Taco – $1.50
- Quesadilla – $4.89
- Pollo/Asada Plate (served with tortillas, rice, beans, salsa) – $7.89
- Huevos Rancheros – $5.49
Hours: Sun – Fri, 10am – 9pm