Tortilleria Reyes is not just great Mexican food "for Bend," but great Mexican food for anywhere in the country. While Bend has a few pretty tasty Mexican eateries, most of them are Americanized with fish bowl-sized margaritas and cheese on everything. Reyes keeps it authentic. And that authenticity can be tasted in every bite.
Tortilleria Reyes was opened by Carlos and Martha Reyes of Michoacán, Mexico, in 2003 with the express purpose of making tortillas and carnitas. "As we got bigger we started adding produce and little things like candies. And then we got to the point where we had so many people we had to get a new location," says Carlos and Martha's daughter Laura.
The tortilleria was initially on the backside of Scandia Plaza, the unassuming strip-mall by Goody's candy factory on South Division. As they grew, they took out the dividing wall and put a kitchen and a few tables into the front room, while keeping the tortilleria, meat counter, grocery store and bakery in the back half of the space.
"People loved our carnitas and some people wanted tacos and wanted to eat here at the store. We started doing well and then added the meat department and bakery and now we make everything here," says Laura.
My photographer and I gorged ourselves on the menu, ordering four tacos, two burritos, a torta and two massive horchatas. The horchatas were light with the right blend of cinnamon and rice milk to not sit heavily in the stomach like most of this region's aguas frescas.
For the tacos, we went with the asada (steak), birria (goat), lengua (tongue) and the adobada (marinated pork). Each taco was fat with meat, cilantro and red onion, served with fresh limes and a red and green sauce. The perfectly seasoned asada was lean with the lime enabling the smoky flavor to linger welcomingly.
Normally, the goat I have tried in Central Oregon has either been stringy, gamey or a combination of the two, while Reyes' birria is tender and mouthwatering.
Lengua has become somewhat of a fad in Bend recently with no fewer than a half dozen people asking me where to find good tongue in Central Oregon over the last few weeks (hold the jokes, please). As a lengua virgin (ditto), I was impressed with how the meat literally melted in my mouth, while leaving the faintest hint of cilantro behind. Tongue meats are the real deal.
The adobada, however, stole the show. The pork is delicately marinated in a chili sauce lightly touched with vinegar and oregano, with every bite more bittersweet than the last because it brought us closer to finishing.
The burritos were massive, packed with meat, rice, onion and tomato and wrapped with Reyes' homemade, old-school recipe tortillas that have become so popular that even Rigobertos is using them. The first burrito was packed with barbacoa beef so tender that it fell apart to the touch. We had the second burrito filled with more adobada because, seriously, there is never enough of that sweet, sweet meat.
The homemade bread surrounding the torta was crisp with a hint of sweetness that made the pan de torta a wonderful dessert for this incredible meal.
Tortilleria Reyes is Bend's best Mexican food. Period. I experienced more flavors in 30 minutes than I have in my entire 15 years living in Central Oregon. Everything we tried on the menu exceeded expectations and left us wanting more. As I woke up this morning all I could think about was my next fix of delicious meats, light aguas frescas and the finest tortillas and pan de torta that I have had since I lived in California. It does not get more authentic than this.
1155 SW Division St., Suite A5,