Hours: Dinner daily starting at 5pm; Happy Hour Mon-Fri 5-6:30pm; Lunch to go Wed-Sat
When you go to a Mexican restaurant and hear they have freshly made corn tortillas, what do you think of? Besides incredibly soft, warm and delicious, you probably also imagine the restaurant is making them from masa harina corn flour or other ground up corn, right? At least that’s what I always assumed.
At Xico however, they take tortilla making to a whole new level. This SE Portland restaurant featuring Oaxacan regional Mexican cuisine, starts from the real source, with corn kernels. Like these kind of corn kernels:
Then through a labor- and time-intensive process using a fun machine called a molino, they grind the kernels up until they become thin corn flour. Next up, comes making the masa which also requires a lot of hands-on kneading. “The more the better,” Executive Chef Kelly Myers said. Talk about a workout.
After that is prepped, hundreds and hundreds of tortillas are rolled, pressed and cooked to perfection on a surprisingly small griddle. Their main tortilla maker, Carmen is like Superwoman making them all throughout the night. For a typical Friday night, she’ll make between 800-1,000 tortillas!
The end result is incredible. They are soft, airy, flavorful and smell delicious.
They are also great for dipping in Xico’s fantastic salsas like homemade tomatillo avocado salsa or their sikil p’ak, a unique pumpkin seed dip (recipe to come!).
I was lucky enough to witness some tortilla making and sample all these wonderful tortillas and dips, plus some of Xico’s mezcal cocktails with some other lovely bloggers (Michelle, Fabiola, Lindsay and Vanessa) and Carrie and Brooke of Little Green Pickle.
I don’t think I’ve ever had mezcal before, but this Mexican distilled alcohol, which means “over-cooked agave,” was great in their cocktails.
Their La Miela cocktail was made with Sombra joven mezcal, wildflower honey, fresh squeezed lime juice and a housemade “worm salt” which is a chile-infused salt. The drink offers a punch of flavor with smokiness of the mezcal, heat from the salt and a slight sweetness from the honey. It is a perfect summertime substitute to a margarita.
This event was an awesome sneak peak into Xico. I can’t wait to go back and try out their dinner menu and other cocktails.
In particular, I am eager to try their Two Taco Masa Specialty which is made with Yuctecan turkey and pork belly marinated in charred guaijilo chiles. And when they say charred, they mean an old Oaxacan tradition of taking the chiles and burning them until they turn into a black ash. And they do this on the back patio of Xico. Sounds too interesting not to try!
A big THANK YOU to Xico, especially Chef Kelly, Owner and General Manager Liz Davis, and Carmen for welcoming us into your space, teaching us about Oaxacan cuisine, tortilla making and mezcal, and of course sampling lots of great food.
And as always, thank you to Carrie, Brooke and Little Green Pickle for inviting me to this super fun event!