I Love Tu Casa. I've been going to this restaurant regularly for almost 7 years and continue to do so. Why? Well, there's the obvious reason that good Latin food is scarce in this city. I think there's more to it than that though:
1. Pupusas - Both the meat and cheese versions are delicious. Covered in El Yucateco green sauce and Curtido (pickled cabbage), they are a perfect combination of rich, spicy, tangy, and crunchy.
2. Up until about a year ago they were BYOB. That was awesome, but I understand selling beer is probably better from a business standpoint. Still, they have Negra Modelo and Pacifico, so I'm happy. For 5 years I would come in and give Louis one of whatever beers I brought in. One day I was in the back and he had me get something, like a to-go container, out of one of the cabinets. On the top shelf were most of the beers I had been giving him over the years, covered in dust. Turns out, he doesn't drink. Oh well...
3. Enchiladas Salvadorena - Two perfectly fried tostadas covered in cabbage, avocado, cheese, and meat. These are just plain ridiculous with Tongue (see below).
4. Tongue - Lengua is the newest addition to the offerings at Tu Casa. You can get it in the taquitos (more traditional tacos on corn tortillas) or the taco (one big flour tortilla). It is so fucking good. Braised, tender, and full of flavor. The texture has a really nice snap to it. So Good.
5. The Rice - I don't know how they prepare their simple white rice. They must use lard or something. It's got great sticky texture and is seasoned perfectly.
6. The refried beans - Salty and delicious.
7. The Mountaineer's Plate - Flank steak, fried egg, fried plantains, avocado, rice, and beans. This is one of my favorite plates of food in Portland. It's a great example of a steak cooked well done that still flavorful and tender.
8. The Plantain Appetizer - Perfectly cooked plantains almost every time. They serve it with a dipping sauce of Salvodoran crema, which you can purchase at the Bodega Latina. We got some, proceeded to use it on everything we made, and then actually read the ingredients to find out what was in it. Heavy Cream, Cream Cheese, and Sour Cream. No wonder I gained ten pounds that month..
9. Jarritos - I don't drink soda, except for mandarin Jarritos.
10. Horchata - My drink of choice here when I'm on the wagon.
11. Mojarra Frita - Whole fried fish. I had this recently for the first time and was very impressed.
12. It's So Inexpensive - The most expensive item on the menu is about $12.00. Pupusas are $1.75
Sure, there are a few things that could use improvement, such as the speed in which you get your food. I suggest calling your order in if your in a hurry, even if you are dining there. My theory for the slowness is that every order they get, they take everything out, prep it, cook it, put everything away, then look at the next ticket and repeat. But you know what? The consistency of the food makes it all worth while.
I might actually go so far as to say this is my favorite restaurant in Portland. Now If someone could just open a decent fucking Mexican place...