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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tacos al Pastor and Chicken Fingers, Together at Last: A Visit to El Porton Mexican Restaurant

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 2:13 PM

click to enlarge Taqueria los Tarascos is now El Porton Mexican Restaurant. - IAN FROEB
  • Ian Froeb
  • Taqueria los Tarascos is now El Porton Mexican Restaurant.
When I visited El Porton Mexican Restaurant (4444 Woodson Rood, Woodson Terrace; 314-890-8668) in December of last year, it was still in the process of changing over from its previous existence as Taqueria los Tarascos. The new sign was going up, but the old menu was still being served.

Some context, for those who actually have lives don't obsess over the comings and going of North County Mexican restaurants: Taqueria los Tarascos, which I reviewed in 2008, wasn't a traditional taqueria but a full-fledged restaurant, featuring a wide range of dishes that you'd be hard pressed to find at other Mexican establishments in town. (I remember the lamb barbacoa with particular fondness.)

In the early spring of last year, I learned that Taqueria los Tarascos had undergone a menu overhaul, and many of its unique items (like the lamb barbacoa) were no longer available, in favor of more conventional fare.

When I heard that the restaurant would be changing yet again -- with a new name, to boot -- I held out hope that El Porton would once again be destination dining for fans of Mexican cuisine.

The carne asada and al pastor tacos at El Porton - IAN FROEB
  • Ian Froeb
  • The carne asada and al pastor tacos at El Porton
El Porton's menu is different. It is also all over the place.

There is taqueria fare, like tacos (the al pastor and carne asada varities are pictured above; tongue, tripe and cabesa are also available) and tortas, and there are also classic Mexican dishes like menudo and chilaquiles.  Separate categories for chicken, steak, shrimp and fish showcase entrées like a whole red snapper, breaded and fried and steak or chicken in chipotle sauce.

Yet the bulk of the menu is dedicated to tried-and-true crowd-pleasers: burritos, enchiladas, fajitas and chimichangas. You can even chicken fingers and something called "Mexican Dance Hot Wings" tossed in the chef's "special sauce."

As for those tacos, they are decent specimens. Neither the carne asada nor the al pastor pork were as strongly seasoned as I prefer, but the latter benefited from plenty of chopped pineapple and sautéed onion.

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