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pepinos

3832 SE Hawthorne Blvd

http://www.pepinos.org/

Pepino's on Urbanspoon

Date of visit: Oct 7, 2009

Price for 2: $11.50

After a few days out off town, we opted against somewhere new and headed to Pepino’s, by far one of my favorite lunch spots. The taqueria is quick, cheap, and one of the few places on Hawthorne with an actual parking lot. (If you’ve been to Hawthorne you know parking can be a real pain.) Unlike the nearby, over-hyped Por Que No, Pepino’s is seriously cheap. I almost always go for the taqeria taco combo: two tacos, chips and a drink for $4.50. The tacos themselves are super basic. Two corn tortillas, meat (I get chicken), cilantro, onions and hot sauce, and that’s it. Delicious.

Jared always gets the Sweet tequila tofu burrito, which has an almost teriyaki-style sauce as well as rice, beans and tofu inside a flour tortilla. It comes with chips for $5.25.

Now based on the prices you’d think Pepino’s would be a grimy hole in the wall, but it’s actually bright and nice with an outdoor patio. There’s an extensive salsa bar, the employees are friendly, and they are always playing festive music. The only real negative I can think of about this place is that every table seems to be uneven and wobbly, but if you can get past that, and want a quick, delicious Mexican meal, Pepino’s is the spot.

Veggie Options: A section on the menu and tofu can be added to any menu item for a small charge.

Speed: I already said it was fast dammit!

Taqeria taco combo

Taqeria taco combo

Sweet tequilla tofu burrito

Sweet tequilla tofu burrito

So everyday around 11:45 I realize I am starving and that can only mean one thing, it’s time for lunch. I try really hard not to get into a rut or going to the same few places everyday, since Portland is a veritable restaurant wonderland and I often finding myself googling where I should go. Sometimes I will type in “awesome lunch specials” or “best Portland lunch” and usually it recommends places on the other side of the bridge, which I really have to want to try to go to. Anyway, I end up at new places often, and it’s always interesting to see the difference in the lunch menu. Sometimes its just a few less thing than dinner, sometimes less expensive (sometimes not.) And of course since I share my office with a damn tree hugger, vegetarian options are always a concern. So in addition to writing about extreme things, I’ve now added a lunch category to my blog and I will proceed to post my reviews of everywhere we try.

To get started I am going to make a short list of pre approved places, which is really for my own personal benifit (sometimes it’s just too hard to think or be creative so I can always just check back here.)  So my favorites are:

 Thai Thai. Wins not only because of it’s close proximity (right up the street on 14th and SE Stark) but for its soup and $6.50 lunch special. I like the spicy noodles. The tofu is a little bit dry though, I usually opt for chicken.

Indian Chaat House. Even though this one is on the other side of the bridge (12th and SW Yamhill) the lunch special is worth it. More food than you can eat in one sitting, changes every day, and it’s only $5.50. Now I always complain that it justed to be $4.25, but that’s still cheap. Oh yeah, and it’s completely Jared-approved.

Pepinos. This is probably my favorite mexican joint, on 39th and Hawthorne. You can get a burrito or tacos with chips for under $6, they serve beer for those rough days, and it’s pretty quick. Veggiewise they have a lot of unique options, and there is a salsa bar.

Vegetarian House. So I like meat, like really, a lot. But the lunch buffet at Vegetarian House again makes it worth the trip across the bridge (it’s on 5th and W Burnside.) This one is $6.50, but for all you can eat and includes tea. They also play weird Chinese TV, so you sort of feel like you are getting cultured.

 Mio Sushi. There are a bunch of these, but I usually go to the one on 42nd and Halsey. They have a pretty decent lunch special menue (ranges from $6-$9), though I often just splurge and get rolls. The crunch roll is pretty much the best thing ever and as it turns out, sushi isn’t that expensive if you don’t get booze.