SE 33rd and Division

Once, in a Mexican border town, I asked to use the bathroom at a taco stand after I'd eaten three, four, or maybe even five wonderfully greasy little tacos. I'd been ordering one after another, standing at the counter, on the side of a dusty road. The woman and son who ran the place led me across the narrow area of kitchen to a toilet behind a curtain. I realized then they'd been working to unplug the backed-up toilet, the same woman and son, between cooking tacos. It was a hot summer. There was a shortage of water. Nothing was sanitary.

But I was addicted to greasy tacos full of chopped meat--carne de asada, barbacoa, with just a little onion, cilantro and salsa, a lime and a radish on the side. I still went back. I ignored what I know of hygiene.

Fortunately, in Portland I can find the same type of taco, and at the same cheap price--$1 each--without the health risk. In fact, Los 3 Hermanos doesn't even have a toilet.

What's more, Los 3 Hermanos makes a taco that's entirely and lusciously equal to those sold in Mexico, and they sell them out of parked vans.

There are several vans around town. I frequent the one near 33rd and SE Division. A sign painted on the side of the van says, "Tortillas Hecho A Mano." The tortillas are amazingly uniform. Each taco comes with two tortillas underneath. I'm not sure if they're actually handmade, but they taste like it.

I've tried other menu items: The torta is an odd combination of white bread and beans with meat, lettuce and avocado. The burritos are hearty. But I'm content to pay one dollar after another for any version of the small, meat-filled tacos.