Xico

Editor’s Pick

$$ Mexican

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Holy white candles, pewter pitchers bursting with happy flowers, and fresh tortillas paper-wrapped like bonbons stand as a promising welcome to Xico. So does a small menu blistering with 17 varieties of chiles and a drinking plan possessed by Italian Lambrusco and mezcal flights. Oaxaca is represented—but so is Oregon. In a year of surging Latin flavors, wine maven Liz Davis and chef Kelly Myers have reconsidered Mexican cuisine for Portland: playful notes, purist notions, and fresh-ground masa fill out a room that feels like a beach hut with pearls. Consistency will take time, but the kitchen is already producing a few dishes destined for iconic status. They include a crispy, smoldering mass of chile-glazed chips with cotija cheese (you can’t eat it fast enough) and a pozole makeover, starring a whole roasted trout (in place of the usual pig’s head) and a broth you’d be happy to swim in. Among the desserts is a dark chocolate–dipped oblong of coconut, almonds, and raisins that would make the Mounds folks blush. With a little work, Xico could take us places.

Last updated: 10/22/2012