GUIDE: Kelly Myers

Mexican Magic

The rising-star chef and spice girl extraordinaire reveals four ingredients perfuming her new restaurant, Xico, joining SE Division Street’s culinary corridor of excellence this month.




Image: Anne Reeser

Canela (Mexican cinnamon)

“This flaky tree bark or ‘true cinnamon’ is interchangeable with common cinnamon sticks, just more interesting—warm, floral, very aromatic. I steep a stick in hot chocolate, and love horchata with lots of canela.”



Image: Anne Reeser

Fidencio Mezcal

“Our favorite mezcal, smoother and slightly sweeter than most, and great for cocktails. I spill a spoonful or two over pinto beans just before serving with white onions, cilantro, and crisp bits of bacon.”







Image: Anne Reeser

 Dried Chipotle Chiles  

“Toast these wrinkled chiles in a skillet over medium-low heat until you can smell them; cool and buzz in a spice grinder for meat rubs. Or rehydrate in water and blend with tomatillos for a tart, smoky salsa to spill over grilled franks.”



Image: Anne Reeser

Avocado Leaf

“For refried black beans, I love the potent, anise-like scent found in dried leaves of avocado trees. Sauté diced onion in olive oil with a small leaf or two, add cooked beans, fry a bit, then purée with a little cooking liquid from the beans. Garnish with crumbled Mexican chorizo or queso fresco.”



HOT TIP: Pick up these ingredients for your own kitchen at Tienda El Campesino (6611 SE Powell Blvd), Supermercados Mexico (970 SE Oak St, Hillsboro), or Latino-friendly Food4Less (7979 SE Powell Blvd).



The city’s most tantalizing ethnic dishes on wheels

1.  Lefse Wraps

Viking Soul Food (4262 SE Belmont St;

Portland’s handmade ethos meets Nordic comfort food in these delicately chewy, grill-speckled potato flatbreads. The best boast delicate schmears of fresh cream cheese and lingonberry jam, or aquavit-soaked salmon and pickled shallots.


2. Crispy Rice, Cherries, Thai Sausage Salad

Carte Blanche (SE 32nd Ave & Hawthorne Blvd;

More fun than a Thai street party, Carte Blanche’s salad sports over a dozen ingredients dancing and crunching in wild harmony. Spiced cashews, cherries, fresh pineapple, crispy shallots, toasty coconut, crackling fried rice, and Asian sausage are just the beginning. 


3. Israeli Falafel and Fries

Gonzo (SE 32nd Ave & Division St;

This installation inside of a pita highlights from-scratch garbanzo balls, wide swaths of tahini, and a true taste of the Israeli souk: the curry-like call of mango pickle heat; a pounding of parsley and pickles; shrieks of Yemeni hot sauce; and, teetering on top, long, golden fries.   



Image: Mei Ratz

4. Kélaguen Mannok with Titiyas 

PDX 671 (SE 32nd Ave & Division St;

It’s a revelation from Guam: a neat chop of cold chicken, each bite an ecstatic tingle of lemon, smoky char, and Thai chiles. Scoop it all up with warm titiyas—the buttery, flaky love child of a tortilla and coconut milk.