Taco Twofer: Who Needs an Excuse to Eat Tacos? | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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Taco Twofer: Who Needs an Excuse to Eat Tacos? 

We sampled two classic Bend taquerias for National Taco Day, but no one needs a reason to try them

In my opinion, no one even needs an excuse like "I'm hungry" to eat a taco—or maybe even two or four. But this recent Oct. 4 was supposedly National Taco Day, and for that, I'd eat at least six, depending on how you're counting. On that anticlimactic national-holiday-day, I stopped by two longtime Bend taquerias to check out the goods.

Tacos El Pihuamo

click to enlarge Clockwise from top right, the carnitas, asada and birria tacos from Tacos Pihuamo. - NICOLE VULCAN
  • Nicole Vulcan
  • Clockwise from top right, the carnitas, asada and birria tacos from Tacos Pihuamo.

The staff at Tacos El Pihuamo is not even aware that it's National Taco Day—a thing dreamed up by taco chain Del Taco some years back—when I stop in to grab a trio of classics from this beloved green truck on Third Street, north of Reed Market Road. That's perfectly fine by me, because once again, there's always a reason to eat tacos—especially these classic street tacos, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and served with a double tortilla aimed at helping you reign in the generous helpings of meat inside.

I opted for two longtime classics—asada (steak) and carnitas (shredded pork), along with birria, the shredded-beef phenom that's been taking the American taco world by storm. Birria originated in the Mexican state of Jalisco, where it's typically made with goat meat, but in the U.S., people along the Mexico-California border have spread this trend around over the past 15 years or so, serving the stew-like birria Tijuana style, with beef and cooked in broth. A 2020 story in Eater detailed "The Great Birria Boom," and I for one am here for it.

Tacos Pihuamo's version doesn't come with a cup of consommé—the delightful broth the beef is cooked in—when ordering individual tacos, but among the three tacos on my plate, it was still the juicy, flavorful star. Sorry asada—love you, but your flashy cousin is kinda stealing the show. Tacos Pihuamo's carne asada taco was not to be ignored, coming tender with just a hint of crispiness on the edges. Likewise, the carnitas were hearty and juicy, with bits of crispy edge I love in carnitas.

Four salsas are available at Tacos Pihuamo, including a spicy, creamy and absolutely awesome avocado-based version, a habanero version with just the right amount of heat, a fresh green salsa with an herby flavor and a red that lets the spice-averse get the flavors without the bite. I love to scoop up just one of each taco's two tortillas, douse a bite in a salsa and then let enough meat fall out to use the second tortilla for leftovers. Luckily, this taqueria's compact yet sturdy tortillas let that process unfold without a falling-apart mess. This is a trio of perfect tacos, and at $7.50 for all three, it's an affordable meal, too.

Tacos El Pihuamo
950 SE 3rd St., Bend
Mon-Fri 10am-7pm

Tortilleria Reyes

click to enlarge Clockwise from top left, chicken, asada and barbacoa tacos from Tortilleria Reyes. - NICOLE VULCAN
  • Nicole Vulcan
  • Clockwise from top left, chicken, asada and barbacoa tacos from Tortilleria Reyes.

Tucked along Division Street near the Reed Market and Third Street intersection, it's easy to miss this unassuming tortilleria in the Scandia Plaza. But plenty of people don't miss it, as evidenced by the line out the door when the spot opened late on the day of my visit.

Tortilleria Reyes has a wide menu of meat offerings, including chicken, barbacoa and asada—the three I ordered—along with birria, adobada (marinated pork), cuento (pork skin) and buche (pork stomach). With my first bite of the barbacoa—traditionally my favorite among the three I tried—what stood out was the excellent tortilla, soft and with just a hint of crunchiness, and doubled up for that added stability. Since this place offers tortillas by the bag, it's no wonder that their tortilla game is strong. The barbacoa was tasty if not overly salty, while the asada was on the crispy side. Typically, pollo (chicken) tacos are not my go-to, due to the tendency for street chicken tacos to get a little stringy, that was not the case here. Tortilleria Reyes' chicken was juicy and flavorful, the chicken coming apart in big shreds.

And the salsas? Yum. I prefer a lot of heat, and the red salsa definitely delivered, having me hold back from putting the entire container on one taco and allowing me to leave some for a future egg scramble. Tortilleria Reyes also offers a guac salsa with lots of flavor and plenty of cilatro.

For those looking to sit down inside and get the full classic tortilleria experience, this is the spot. Grab a beer or a few Mexican style candies, stock up on tortillas or other basic sundries, and peruse the menu that includes lots more than tacos. I eyed up the menudo, sopes and the full birria order—this one made with goat and coming with consommé and six tortillas—but after downing all these tacos, those will have to wait for another visit.

Tortilleria Reyes
1155 SW Division St., Bend
Daily 10am-8pm

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. While the pandemic reduced "hobbies" to "aspirations," you can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis. (Progress: slow.)
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