El Brasero


El Brasero

El Brasero

Location: SE 12th and Hawthorne


On a sunny Sunday, post Thanksgiving, no one wants leftovers. This is the time to go out and get something far different than what you have been consuming over the previous few days. Mexican food was the choice for me and we I decided on El Brasero, a Mexican taqueria in Cartopia, that amazing late night cart pod on SE 12th and Hawthorne.

El Brasero has been at Cartopia as long as I can remember. While it isn’t getting the press and accolades its pod partners receive, El Brasero has managed to create a strong following of customers. Every time I’m at the pod, there is an equal number of customers there as there are at the other carts. My roommate has been singing their praises for weeks now, so I decided to visit.

Carnitas Burrito from El Brasero

Carnitas Burrito from El Brasero

When I try a new Mexican cart, I usually have tacos as the gauge of the cart’s food. This time, however, I needed more than a taco, so I opted for the Carnitas burrito. Braised, roasted small chunks of pork is as far from turkey I could get. The burrito came with rice, beans, onions, tomatoes and sour cream, all wrapped in a very tasty flour tortilla. And it was tasty. They have a green salsa that I swear is 100% chopped up jalapenos. Not as spicy as the red sauce, but very flavorful and perfect against the carnitas. The burrito is rather large, so could be shared amongst a group, along with items from the other carts.

El Brasero has a vast menu with what seems like 100’s of items. Tacos, burritos, sopas, tortas, etc. They also have breakfast burritos for you early risers and a good list of vegetarian burritos that include ingredients like jicama, mushrooms, veggie chorizo, or cactus. El Brasero can feed you any time of the day and should be able to cater to most anyone’s food cravings. Couple that with being in the same location with the other cart stars and you have a recipe for success. Next time you are down that way, give El Brasero a visit and tell them Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Breakfast Burritos – egg, potato and cheese with your choice of meat – $4.50
  • Chicken Burrito – grilled chicken, onions, tomatoes, chile, cilantro, lettuce, sour cream – $5.75
  • Carnitas Burrito – chunks of pork braised in orange juice w/ lettuce, chile, onions, tomatoes, sour cream – $5.75
  • Fish Burrito – arrez fish, pico de gallo, chipotle sauce – $7.50
  • Quesadilla – flour tortilla filled with cheese and folded with pico de gallo – $5.75
  • Sope – hand made tortilla fried and covered with beans, onions, fresh cheese, lettuce and sour cream – $4.75
  • Nachos – $4.75
  • Tacos with your choice of meat – $1.50
  • Vegetarian Burritos – choice of zucchini, jicama, mushroom, cactus, veggie chorizo – $5-$7

Hours: Daily plus weekends – morning through late night
Contact: unknown



  1. McAngryPants says

    Their Veggie Chorizo Burrito is AWESOME!!

  2. The chicken enchilada is also the bomb.
    Big fav.

  3. Arthur Delaney says

    yeah, next time go for one of the veggie options. I’m a meat eater but I only order veggie there.

  4. This cart charges more for their vegan (probably vegaterian also) tacos because they have to use a different tortilla. I like that they are honest about the regular tortilla’s not being veg-friendly but I hate that someone can get a taco loaded with meat and guac for less that my rice, beans and lettuce!

  5. what are u talking about the vegan taco is at a very resinable price
    especially becuase they add rice,beans,lettuce,pico de gallo,and your choice of guac. or avacado..
    also the tortilla is pretty big : )

  6. I tried a zucchini burrito the first time I went here, figuring I could try a different one every time. It was so good that it’s still the only thing I’ve ordered there. So Good.

  7. I stopped by here on the way home one night recently. I ordered the most simple thing on the menu: Bean And Cheese Burrito. I’ve eaten B&C Burritos on just about every other food cart around Portland in the past 10 years and I can honestly say this was without a doubt the WORST, MOST DISGUSTING, SMALL, and LOW QUALITY Burrito I’ve ever received.

    For starters the size was that of a taco. Usually when I order these I can split 1 between 2 people or, I end up stuffing myself, I ended up going to another food cart an hour later. Overall the quality of the food was just low par compared to other carts in Portland. Maybe I was there on a bad night.

    Also the beans tasted as if they had meat grease in them, this could be a misleading thing for vegans or veggie’s who are looking for some simple beans, cheese and rice.

    I doubt I’ll ever eat from here again unless I hear the owners have taken a oath to greatly improve their fare.

  8. I work about 5 blocks from this cart, and within a mile and a half of my work there are 5 Mexican carts that I can think of off the top of my head. I stopped by today to give El Brasero a shot, and while the food is on a par with every other of the 5 carts, I take profound offense at being charged $2.00 for a 12 oz can of soda…that’s twice as much as every other cart I’ve been to. Am I cheap?.. well if I was Daddy Warbucks I probably wouldn’t be lurking around food cart pods; my point is that I know when I’m being gouged, and it’s a natural human reaction to resent it. Soooo, please spend that extra dollar wisely, maybe invest in gold or put it in your kids college fund, because it’s the last one that you will get out of me.

  9. I really like the food but for a cart their prices are pretty high for some items. $7 for a veggie burrito? Go to a Mexican sit down restaurant and enjoy your $7 veggie burrito that comes with chips and salsa, table service and an atmosphere – you don’t get any of that at El Brasero. $3.75 for a floppy, “pinner” bean and cheese burrito, add pico de gallo and it’s $1 extra. That just seems weird to me…

  10. Finally got myself to the food carts on Hawthorne and tried the cactis vegan burrito, it was so good…I want some more.

  11. I am on a quest to find a decent, great would be preferable, but will settle for a decent burrito in Portland. Thus far, no success, but this only my 3rd try. I found the burrito lacking in flavor, but I think what stood out the most from the experience is a side of chips is $6.00. When she said my total was $11.75, all I could was stare! What did I order? A burrito & chips at a cart! I said that was way too much for chips so I would do without. I stopped at QFC on the way to appease my chip craving.

  12. Stopped here to try the pork tacos, an easy way to gauge a cart’s credibility. Not great. Tortillas tasted microwaved, not griddle steamed. Large chunks of pork that were bland, decent onion and cilantro amounts. Garnished with old radishes. I wouldn’t eat here again, but was something that a picky child would like.

  13. Do not eat here! nasty and people are not friendly. I have tried the food a couple times and not very good.

  14. When I visited this cluster of carts on hawthorne, they were the one with the least business, but did not think of it. Visitors who were coming in would pick and choose what they would be grubbing on, and very few went to El Brasero. I then saw a crew of five crusty college kids who were looking in all of the trash bins to see what people threw out. This, I assume would be their dinner, but more power to them. One of the ladies in the crew goes to the trash can near the Brasero, tastes it, and starts doing a move that I can only compare to Perry Farrell in “The Mountain Song” video, followed by “this is not even worth the trash bag that holds it”.

    As I look at the comments, it seems quality has dropped considerably. I may try it out this week just for fun, just to see if the recent comments on this page are true. If they are, I’ll be at Whiffies.

  15. I cant belive any good things said about this place!
    I went there and yes 2 bucks for a friggin coke and it was HOT not warm but HOT. The food sucked, the worst I have EVER had at any food cart ever! The prices are insane for what you get. Well look at the layout, big bucks to have all that space, and the customers that get ripped off there are the idiots like me paying for it. I can honestly say I would have feed a family of 4 at Taco Bell for half the price with god forbid leftovers! I don’t belive that the comments here that are positive are true or those liking the crap they call food from this truck cant taste!

  16. Foodcartmasterotheworld says

    Three words. Carnitas Burrito yummy.

  17. I used to go here every now and then to grab a burrito until the other night. The workers were openly making fun of their customers but doing it while speaking spanish, thinking they wouldn’t understand. I understood what they were saying and it was very uncalled for. I cant support a place like that. I wont be going back.

  18. @Andrew, what were they saying?

  19. So it was a weird day yesterday all the way around… but this, this is unbelievable, even for Portland.
    I was running late and skipped breakfast, a big no no. So I decided to get a burrito at the food carts on 11th & Hawthorne. They are generally ok, nothing to write home about, but ya know, a burrito would certainly keep me full through the entire day.
    So, I go up to the little window and I order a Classic Vegetarian from a guy on a phone. Since it has no guacamole or anything, I ask for fresh avocado. He says $8… um, oookkkaaayyy, that is a bit much for a food cart vege burrito, but hey, maybe it’s awesome. I’m alright with that. This is almost twice as much as it was a year ago mind you it’s only a vege after all, ya know with like 75 cents of actual cost. He takes my money, hands me $2, and before I could even tell him how I wanted it he turns around and starts doing stuff… I am trying to get his attention.. “excuse me”, “pardon me sir” and the like. I am completely ignored. I also have a stamp card for this cart and I have it on the counter and I want him to stamp it so I can put it away and put my gloves back on – it’s freezing outside. I continue to be ignored while he has a very loud conversation, in Spanish, on the phone. I finally say, “maybe if you weren’t on the phone you could do your job a little better?” Again, he does not hear me (I do know he didn’t hear me) and I refuse to scream in to a cart. After what seemed like forever he turns around hand hands me a burrito. It is very very light for an $8 burrito, very. I have to practically jump up and down to get his attention again and ask him to stamp my card, I even say please as I am over the previous shit – I have my food, I just want to go. He looks at me and just says “NO”, very rude and loud. Nothing else. I say, but it is for this cart, I have previous stamps from here. He again says “NO”. Um, huh? I say “excuse me?” He says something like “we don’t have those” I say “but you do and here it is”, I turn the card so he can clearly see the logo. If they in fact discontinued the stamp cards, that would be one thing and he could easily have said so. I finally can’t take any more – this has been one the absolute rudest experiences I have had in as long as I can remember. I say to him, “sir, you have been very rude to me” (when I get mad I get very polite)… before I can say anything else, and while he is still on the damned phone mind you, he turns the radio up full blast in my face. Um, really? So I walk away. As I am walking through the lot I say to the guy that had greeted me upon entry at another cart, what a rude experience that was. Then I decide I do not even want his burrito. I can’t take it any more and I turn around and throw the burrito at the cart. I was intending to get it into the window, but a pitcher I am not. It hits the cart and explodes all over the little stairs. AHHHHHHH, much better. Normally throwing a burrito that cost $8 would never be an option for me, I am usually a bit better behaved. However, in this case I feel like I was not only in the right, I almost had a duty for myself and anyone else that has endured such horrible service. And it turns out, the burrito was almost all rice. make that 35 cents worth of ingredients. The name of the place is El Brasero and I intend to Yelp and Google Review this story and I hope if he is not the owner, that it reaches them. Especially considering I was the only customer at that cart (hmm, wonder why) and it was lunch time. I went and got a bowl of Pho and felt much better, even with the horrible Christmas music.

  20. Skip this place! says

    I live 3 blocks from this place and sometimes I feel like some Mexican food late at night after other things have closed. I’ve tried (and love) the other carts in Cartopia, but sometimes it’s just got to be Mexican, you know? Well, this is NOT the place to go. Three separate visits yielded nothing but overpriced, mediocre and bland ‘food’ with awfully rude service. I haven’t been drunk enough yet to enjoy it. And I never will.

  21. I had the worst experience here yesterday. We are vegan/gluten-free and drove to hawthorne just because we heard great things. We waited 15 minutes for our food, only to find out they gave it to another family, and we didn’t even find that out until the other family brought it back after opening it/pulling it apart to see whats inside. They would not remake our food and told us to just take it. Upon further examination we came to find out it was not Soyrizo inside, it was in fact pork chorrizo. We brought it to their attention and prefaced the fact that we are vegan and have been for quite some time, and eating animal product will make us very sick. He said just eat it any way, pushed the food back towards us and told us to get out of line so people could order. I am not one who ever makes a scene or complains about food, but it took 10+ minutes of arguing before he even agreed to give us a refund. I can’t believe we received treatment like that, and will NEVER eat here again.

  22. I’ve never had anything but GREAT food at this cart. The vegan chorizo and the plantain mole are beyond good. I’ve also always found the people working in the chart to be perfectly friendly (if busy).

    Also, the veggie burritos are $7, but they’re freaking huge. You could easily split one in half if you don’t have a big appetite.

    I agree the cans of soda are a little overpriced, and I can’t speak to the quality of the food with meat. But right now this is my favorite Mexican food location in the entire CITY. And I grew up in the rural Southwest, so good Mexican food is in my blood.

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