I have a special place in my heart for Mexico… the land, culture and food. I’ve written a list of five very special and authentic Mexican restaurants and so was pleased to find yet another. La Calaca Comelona, roughly translated to The Hungry Skeleton, can be found in a bright blue building on SE Belmont.
You’ll know you are in a special place when you come upon “El Pachuco,” a colorful bus reminiscent of “Chicken Buses” roaming the roads between tiny villages and the cities in Mexico and Central America carrying rural Mexicans and, often, their livestock.
The décor is only part of the story at La Calaca but is worth noting. You’ll see typical Mexican folk art… skeletons, Loteria card designs and bright colors. The owners use their décor to pay homage to Mexican artist Jose Lopez Posada, who is known for his depictions of skulls and skeletons and Mexican life. His satirical illustrations have become synonymous with the imagery of Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations. In Mexico, on November 2nd, The Day of the Dead is cause for celebration and colorful decorating of graves while the dead are thought to walk among us.
You’ll be welcomed by this imagery, color and culture as you enter La Calaca Comelona. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating. The patio is especially inviting. A small bar is well stocked and La Calaca is known for a good happy hour experience.
But on to the food… La Calaca Comelona is wholesome, freshly prepared and uniquely Mexican. Don’t look for shredded iceberg lettuce, canned picante sauce and grated cheddar here. It is more likely that you will enjoy a meal with house salsas, plaintains, nopales and such delicacies as pickled jalapeños.
With all the Day of the Dead memorabilia surrounding me I just had to try Levanta Muertos (raise the dead) for $17.00. The very large meal, served mixed together on a pottery plate, included, black beans and white rice covered with grilled sweet peppers, onions, mushrooms, plantain, chicken, and tomatoes. The chicken was tender, the sauce delicious and the plantains, very sweet. Needless to say, I took half the meal home to enjoy the next evening. I accompanied my meal with a glass of Tempranillo, only $5 at their happy hour price.
I thoroughly enjoyed La Calaca and joining friends at an indoor-outdoor table. If you want to pretend you are on vacation in Mexico, this is the restaurant for you!
Address: 2304 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214-2819
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Note: Their website appears to be down