Hunger strikes again! Read on to find out how our brave foodies, Abbe and Jebby, have conquered the beast!
(Please forgive the not-so high quality photos, the lighting is a bit moody at Matador!)
Jebby’s Meal: Pozole with chicken
Jebby’s Drinks: Mojito and Tamarind Margerita
I think I’ve come to the conclusion that pozole is just a food that I’m not that into. Hominy, garlicky pork broth, shredded chicken, chilies, lime… all these things are things that I enjoy greatly. Yet, when you put them together, the whole is somehow less than the sum of its parts. The pozole at Casa del Matador was actually pretty solid, I just wasn’t blown away. The broth was moderately flavorful, full of tender hominy and piled high with shredded chicken, chunks of creamy avocado and crunchy tortilla strips, but it was really just okay. I’m pretty sure that I think pozole in general is just okay – nothing to really write home about, but probably very comforting the morning after a long night of drinking or if you grew up on the stuff.
I feel really bad giving the pozole a less than stellar review because our appetizers and Abbe’s food were so delicious, and a subsequent visit yielded an extremely tasty entrée. However, I think it is in the reader’s best interest for me to say that you should go to Casa del Matador, you should not order the pozole. There are far tastier and more delicious options (like the carne asada enchiladas) and unless you’re really into corn soup you’ll probably be disappointed when your friends get plates of tacos and enchiladas with steaming piles of fragrant beans and rice and you’re eating some meat broth with tortilla chips on it. I will, however, mention that the more I drank the tastier it became, but I suppose that’s true of all food.
The drinks at Casa Del Matador are something I can rave about. These people know all about tequila and most of their drinks are tequila-based. The mojito was good, but the tamarind margarita was absolutely stellar – refreshing, well-blended, unexpected. It came garnished with a cinnamon-sugar rim and got me positively schnockered. A+, would drink again.
Abbe and Jebby’s Appetizer: Spicy Fried Calamari
Who doesn’t like some fried squid? Jebby and I are seasoned calamari tasters, having eaten at every end of the fried squid spectrum. But when we tasted the Matador’s Calamari, all bets were off. Everyone knows that calamari has a specific rubbery texture that makes it unique, what a lot of people don’t know is that well made, fresh calamari can still have that rubbery texture, but can also be tender and buttery.
Our squid was melt in your mouth delicious with a crisp coating of flour and spices that created an inspiring combination of textures. The garlic aioli was like something out of a Gordon Ramsay fantasy, thick and creamy, absolutely bursting with flavor. I don’t think the plate lasted longer than 3 or 4 minutes before Jebby and I had obliterated any evidence of there ever having been food there. It was drool generating magic.
Abbe’s Meal: Mole Con Pollo
Abbe’s Drinks: White Peach Sangria and Blackberry Margerita
After reading the description of this meal on the menu, I needed look no further for what I wanted to try. I was absolutely giddy with excitement to get this food into my fundus. Watching the waitress carry my massive plate of steaming magic towards our table was like watching a moment from a romantic comedy where the two lovers finally reunite and everything is in slow motion with some sort of Celine Dion song playing in the background.
I immediately began piling my warm corn tortilla high with beans, rice and all the amenities. When it was time for the chicken I delicately took my fork to the tender meat and watched as it effortlessly fell off the bone. Before mixing it in with all my ingredients I took a blissful bite of my mole and chicken; the tasteplosion that followed was unlike anything I could fathom. The mole was sweet and spicy with an ethereal undertone of cinnamon and chocolate that swirled around the flavors of chilies and garlic. Combined with the velvety and juicy chicken that was cooked to perfection, I was practically drunk on the taste.
Added to my lovingly built taco, the mole and chicken were even more titillating when garnished with warm black beans, steaming Mexican style rice, sour cream, house made guacamole and unbelievably fresh pico. I had found the Spanish dish that I’d always dreamed of. The dish I’d dreamt of sharing over candlelight with Simon Baker, the dish I had only thought existed in a world where unicorns were a reality, the dish that Walt Disney himself couldn’t put into a cartoon fairy tale because the movie reel would explode.
And if that wasn’t epic enough to put me into a food induced coma, my white peach sangria was so flippin’ scrumptious I wanted to cry.
Just do yourself a favor and eat at Casa Del Matador. Nothing else in life matters.
I spend most of my food related time thinking about Spanish dishes; rice, beans, slow cooked meats, melted cheeses and so on. All those sticky fumblings at other Spanish restaurants and I could only dream of getting out, getting anywhere, getting all the way to the Matador. Jebby and I discovered this little gem by accident, we were actually on our way to dine at a southern food restaurant owned by the person who previously owned the Delta Café, one of our favorite places to eat. When we drove by and saw 10-20 hipsters lining the outside of the building waiting for a table, we decided to put that dining experience on the back burner for now and happily drove across the street to the Matador, which had enticed us with the giant cow skull crowing it’s emblem and the moody lighting shining like a beacon from inside it’s burgundy draped windows.
Once inside we looked around in awe of the gorgeous décor and all around amazing interior of this new found treasure. Wooden paneled walls adorned with various bull and cow skulls, large floor to ceiling windows garnished in deep red and burgundy velvet drapes, antique chandeliers and unique light fixtures hanging above each table, a rustic fire pit in the middle of the room surrounded by a table and chairs, and lastly a huge bar lined to the ceiling with bottles of Tequila sparkling in the dim light and tinted by the stained glass mosaic of what looked like a sacred heart and another bull skull.
I just want to point out that the interior of this restaurant is how I wish the inside of my house looked. I want to live there.
Jebby and I were greeted by a friendly hostess and seated in a large booth. You get two menus, one for food and the other for Tequila. Casa Del Matador has on of the largest Tequila bars in Portland and they aren’t kidding around. The menu has three full pages of every Tequila they carry, prices ranging from $5 for a shot to $400 for a bottle. This visit was solely for the purpose of food review, but someday we vowed to return and have a Tequila tasting night.
We were blown away with how fresh the ingredients in our food were. The master minds behind the food at Matador create their own unique recipes that put a completely new spin on “tex-mex” and put a completely new feeling of satisfied in your belly. Every meal is preceded by a large bowl of hot tortilla chips and house made salsa, as much as you can eat. The Matador even has a fresh sheet for each month that contains recipes using ingredients that are specifically in season at that time.
You too can enjoy the magical atmosphere and food of The Matador at one of their numerous locations including two in Portland, four in Washington, and one in Idaho.
Casa Del Matador’s brilliant menu can be slobbered over at www.matadorrestaurants.com