Portland >Food & Dining > Cha Cha Cha
There are more famous mexican places nearby. And cheaper ones. But this one reliably delivers the sabor todos los tiempos.
Not the very best Mexican you've had, but it's pretty good, fresh and quick, making for an easy weeknight takeout stop, or you can hang out on the big patio with a margarita and watch the Hawthorne foot traffic on a nice day. I usually get the wild salmon tacos or shrimp burrito.
Fail! and not what we were looking for..
This place is not where you want to go if 1. you dont want to ask for silverware, salsa, or napkins brought to you with your food even if it requires it. We had to ask for each one. Totally Rediculous! 2. if you are familiar with how Mexican food is supposed to be cooked. 3 If you expect to get the items described the way they are on the menu on your plate.
Now to explain my experience. I was told by my nephew of this place in Portland that had authentic Mexican food that he really liked and so when my wife and I took her parents there for the day who are from Mexico we decided to give it a try. We went to the NE Broadway location at around 5 PM and went to the counter to order the meals. I seen many of my favorite dishes on the menu one being Tacos Al Pator. The menu described them just as you would normally get them in Mexico, with pineapple so I was excited to taste the savory spicey and sweet tacos I had fallen in love with when I visited Mexico. Next I asked if my wife wanted the chilaquiles they have listed on their online menu only to be told they dont have that here and did not even know it was on that menu. I browsed the menu a little more and seen they had civiche and thought of my memories of the civiche I had in Mexico and decided to try theirs out.
After we sat there for just a short period of time (which was about the only thing good they did) they brought to us a shrimp cocktail they tried to pass off as Civiche with just 5 or 6 tortilla chips. This was not civiche. Civiche does not have tomatoe sauce and normally comes with many chips. There were 5 of us and only 5 chips. I had to ask for more and then the waiter told me that chips cost a dollar. I just paid him and got the chips shaking my head as I walked away.
So we ate the shrimp cocktail and soon are food arrived, I looked at my tacos and realized there was no shaved pineapple and asked him if they forgot to put them on and he said "ah, um, well.... ehem they are cooked inside there". It was total BS. There were none. They dont want to spend the money on them. I was ready to eat one but noticed he didnt bring any salsa to our table. Never before have I been to a authentic Mexican place and they didnt bring it. Totally amazing. So we had to ask for salsa and as I asked for this my wife said oh and yes we need silverware and then I said napkins too please. He says "OK" then comes back with silverware. We say we need napkins and salsa. He brings back napkins. We say Salsa..... He finally brings the salsa. God what a horrible place! What a dumb waiter! What a poor excuse for authentic Mexican food! Dont bother going here because they dont bother bringing you anything the way you would expect from a place like this. Seperatly bringing napkins, silveware, and salsa making us wait to eat while our food was cold, passing off shrimp cocktail as civiche, denying that there were missing ingredients in the meal as described on the menu. If there was a lower rating they got it. Fail!
Preface: We were super-impressed with the Broadway Cha Cha Cha. They were fast, very friendly, and the food was quite palatable - and even moments from closing time.
Unfortunately, we met with very different odds at the Hawthorne location. Dude behind the counter was creepy. I generally want to like my servers, but this guy just kept staring at my girlfriend, and wouldn't even look at me while I was ordering. We each asked for extra guac, but all he'd write on the ticket was, 'with quac.' I tried to emphasize, but language barrier or not, he wasn't gonna write 'extra.'
Our food came quickly enough - girlfriend got a veggie burrito, I got the mole burrito. Painfully small portions of guacamole - big pet peeve. Girlfriend described hers as "It's OK... yeah, it's OK." When I tasted that my mole sauce was a tinge on the burnt side (though it's easy to burn chocolate when cooking it), I endeavored never to come back, and also to go on Citysearch and expound my disappointment.
Bottom line - if you're really hungry, and not rolling in money, the portions are good and the prices are modest. If you've already got a favorite spot on Hawthorne, though, I'd recommend giving them your patronage before this spot, any day.
Decent food, lots of options, a little cramped. The prices here are awesome, and the menu is huge. I love that the veggie burrito comes with guac included for no extra charge. The tacos I've had have all been pretty good, although I just tried some salmon tacos that were way too fishy. The place is cute, and it's cool that they serve beer and margaritas, but it's pretty small and if you sit in the middle of the restaurant it feels pretty cramped. Not a bad place to go in a hurry, or for takeout, but you could also do better.
very good burritos at a very good price.. this place has a great variety of burritos and other mexican food, including numerous choices of traditionally marinated meat options. What I like the best though is how fresh everything always tastes. The portions are always large, and the price can't be beat. Is it authentic mexican food? Not as I've grown accustomed to having it from time living in southern California. The difference? It tastes fresh, and although I have no way to prove it, I'd say that cha! cha! cha! starts with better quality ingredients than you usually see at this price. I recommend getting your burrito "wet", it's way better and not much more expensive than getting it dry.
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