You might recognize Verde Cocina from its perch at the Portland Farmers Market, where they’ve been pressing fresh corn tortillas and stuffing them with the market haul for years. Word has spread that their one-year-old brick-and-mortar on SW Capitol Highway has been quietly serving some of the best Mexican food in Southwest Portland. With plates piled high in local produce, great tortillas and seasonal margaritas, Verde Cocina is breaking boundaries, showcasing Northwest bounty through a Mexican lens.
Guanajuato native and self-taught locavore, Chef Noé Garnica takes Northwest bounty to the extreme, from the corn in his fresh tortillas to tangy cotija-style goat cheese sourced straight from Farmers Market connections. The tiny dinner menu, a vegan and gluten-friendly list of tacos and quesadillas is anchored by mountains of fresh zucchini, squash, peppers and garbanzo beans that accompany every dish.
Under a black and white awning, families bustle in and out, raking in plates of vegetables as the wait staff—many of them related to the chef—extoll the virtues of their purveyors. In the warm seasons, tables spill out through the restaurant’s gaping garage door, with a few seats at the bar and an entire lofted dining room on the second floor.
Everything here is good; the unadorned ingredients speak for themselves. A special of local Columbia River Salmon tacos arrives with crisped skins, fresh market tomatoes, and salsa—bright with herbs and chile spice. Vegetables are the main event, but meat is taken seriously: gringas (soft, rolled tacos) come off the outdoor press, puffing and steaming with maze perfume, rolled with braised Sweet Briar Farm pork and dark, musky mole. The standout is a chorizo quesadilla, lofty with white bean and garbanzo, thick slices of paprika-heavy sausage, and a sprinkling of charred sweet corn and cotija goat cheese.
The drinks, mostly sweet and spicy tequila-based cocktails, are good too. A seasonal margarita comes bright orange with muddled peaches, spiked with tequila reposada and a kick of lime. Skip the dessert: overly sweet tres leches and fruit pie served cold straight from the refrigerator.
Right now, Verde Cocina is a neighborhood gem with a serious following in Hillsdale and a loyal Farmers Market caravan. We’ll be back for breakfast, when Garnica’s thick masa tortillas transform into a farm fresh huevos rancheros and steak & eggs topped with Egg It On Farm’s vibrant yolks.
6446 SW Capitol HWY