¡Bienvenido! Did you know that approximately 14% of Oregon’s population identifies as Hispanic, making it the largest minority group in Oregon? Many Portlanders have Hispanic or Latino heritage, and you’ll see evidence of a flourishing cultural landscape in many places in the Portland region. During National Hispanic Heritage Month — celebrated between Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 — the region comes alive with Hispanic and Latino cultural events.
Festivals with Music and More
- The El Grito Fiestas Patrias festival is the Pacific Northwest’s largest celebration of its kind. El Grito celebrates the independence of former Spanish colonies in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America, and their vibrant cultures. Visitors enjoy traditional mariachi and folkloric dance, live music and a wide range of food and arts vendors.
- JUNTOSpdx comes to Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown for three days in September and October with activities including an arts show, low riders, artisan flea market, food vendors, guest speakers, dancing and more. It’s an opportunity and celebration to learn, connect and embrace the rich traditions and contributions of the Latino community in Oregon.
- The Portland Latin American Film Festival — affiliated with the Hollywood Theatre — offers a wide range of innovative films from September through November.
For even more Hispanic cultural events in the Portland area all year-round, this calendar provides a frequently updated list. While you’re in town, here are some Hispanic-owned businesses to support and savor these important communities in the Portland area.
Creative Cuisine and Shopping Downtown
República, the flagship of a group of restaurants, bars and coffee shops, creates upscale interpretations of classics that might contain blue corn, apricot mole sauce, or amaranth grains — each accompanied by a story about the origins of the dish.
In the Pearl District, try a house horchata drink on draft and the cochinita roasted pork filling at Papi Chulo’s. Need a pick-me-up? Pájaro Coffee jokingly claims to be “the slowest coffee in town” because of the owner’s extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for making his own organic, plant-based drinks and specialty coffees.
In downtown Portland, Orox Leather Co. makes beautiful, one-of-a-kind leather goods from wallets to apparel, each made with exquisite craftsmanship. The owners learned their skills in their home region of Oaxaca, Mexico, and moved to Portland after a stint in Japan. The family’s fondness for Portland shines in the short film “A Postcard from Portland.”
Theater and Vibrant Mercado in Southeast Portland
The acclaimed Milagro Theatre produces and stages thought-provoking plays featuring Hispanic figures and themes, presented bilingually. Recently, they’ve been celebrating such giants as labor-rights activist Dolores Huerta and Spanish poet Federico García Lorca.
The lively and colorful Portland Mercado hosts a diversity of food stands and a neighborhood bar. Principe Mayaserves traditional Mayan dishes like saucy, cheesy codzitos taquitos (stuffed taquitos) . Don’t leave without specialty salsas or house-made blue tortillas from Kaah Market.
Pupuseria La Migueleña, a Salvadoran food cart, serves pupusas stuffed with cheese and other ingredients. Try the “revuelta” pupusa, a combo of cheese, beans and a pork filling. Be sure to try traditional tamales, fried plantains and more at the food cart. It’s hard to go wrong here or at other Mexican-style carts in the Springwater Cart Park, offering affordable and delicious tacos, tamales, and other traditional Mexican food and drinks.
Mexican Food Made from Scratch East of Portland
Birrieria Carlos in Happy Valley and Gresham turns out a scrumptious set of Mexican dishes made with birria, a slow-cooked, brick-red, spicy beef stew. Nearby, try asada fries or foot-long chile relleno burritos at El Zalsoso taqueria.
The east-side suburb of Gresham is filled with mom-and-pop dining destinations. One option is Agave Azul Mexican Restaurant, which serves delights like made-from-scratch sopes — crispy masa cakes served with refried beans and chicken or beef — and many others from an extensive menu. Looking for your own ingredients? Stop by La Tapatia SuperMarket, a small grocery chain in Gresham, Portland and Salem for pantry staples and special treats like pan dulce and imported Mexican snacks.
Fabulous Flavors in North and Northeast Portland
The chimichangas at family-owned La Bonita come filled with meats like chorizo, suadero (stewed beef) or tender chicken. Round out the night with tacos at Aztec Willie’s — come Friday nights for bachata music and plan a Saturday night for salsa dancing.
Mis Tacones, a queer- and Chicanx-owned restaurant painted with murals in bold colors, serves all-vegan food like asada seitan, house-made cashew crema and gluten-free tofu-scramble empanadas. Trans people of color eat for free. Taqueria Los Puñales on Southeast Belmont is also a queer-owned and Mexican-operated stop for those who want meat options. Its specialty is tacos guisados (stewed meat) from chicken tinga and tender carnitas to lengua (beef tongue). Don’t forget to order a house margarita.
For colorful flavors of the Yucatán, check out Ki’ikibáa, where chef Manny Lopez’s traditional panuchos — bean-stuffed tortillas with savory toppings — will make your lifetime highlight reel. Add in a pitcher of dragonfruit agua fresca for the win.
Woman-owned Güero restaurant has an expansive menu with hard-to-find dishes, like the popular Mexican street favorite torta. For pastries like chocoflan or pastel de tres leches — and a taqueria in back — stop by Tienda y Taqueria Santa Cruz across the soaring St. Johns Bridge in North Portland.
Street Fairs and Good Eats in the Tualatin Valley
The area west of Portland brims with markets and places to eat, but don’t miss these two. La Mixteca Oaxaca, a scrappy little restaurant that recently survived a fire in Hillsboro, showcases family recipes like tlayuda tradicional — a huge tortilla with toppings — and mole oaxaqueño, a spicy, aromatic sauce served over chicken. The Portland region’s first-ever Puerto Rican eatery, Borikén Restaurant in Beaverton, is known for its delicious fried plantains, a tripe stew called mondongo and pork-stuffed tamales.