Thursday, May 31, 2012
Lots of people know Gloria Vargas (below left) from her long-running gig at the Beaverton Farmers' Market, dishing out signature Salvadoran-style tamales with their sensuous banana leaf wrappers and lighter-than-air cornmeal filling wrapped around fall-apart tender chicken, pork or vegetables. But even area locals haven't picked up on the fact that just blocks away lies Gloria's home base, from whence flows her market goodness.
My luck was on overdrive when I stopped in for lunch the other day, since Gloria was featuring Salvadoran chile rellenos (top photo) as the daily special. Made with green bell peppers rather than the more typical Anaheim or poblanos, she somehow roasted them so that instead of having an acidic bite they had a sweeter, fuller character.
Stuffed with long-braised, fork-tender pork and covered with an intriguing chunky tomato-based sauce, every forkful caused my eyes to roll back in my head. The brightly colored plate also held Gloria's outstandingly flavorful black beans, a beautiful serving of saffron-colored rice and a small vinaigrette-infused salad of seasonal greens. If this dish is on the menu when you go, order it immediately before someone else takes the last one…it goes quickly and when it's gone, it's gone.
If there's any better, fresher Latin food in town, especially at such reasonable prices, I have yet to find it. And with authentic Salvadoran cuisine in short supply in Portland, it's definitely worth a quick trip out to the burbs for lunch. I'm intrigued by Gloria's dinner offerings, which are only available by calling ahead and making a reservation…I'll be sure and report back when I do!
Details: Gloria's Secret Café, 12500 SW Broadway St., Beaverton. 503-268-2124.