Organic. All-natural. Local. Sustainable. Vegan. It's impossible to put the food at Papa G's into a single category. But there is one overarching theme: it's all good for you. For more than 15 years, patrons have flocked to this Portland staple to assemble greens at the organic salad bar, bite into Reubens made with tempeh, and savor hot entrees that are often completely gluten free. Even the beverage selection adheres to the Papa G's standard. Organic coffees and teas are big draws, and a housemade coconut kefir with local blueberries shows the kitchen team's range.
Inside Milltown Pub you'll find a full bar, an all-ages atmosphere, and a menu with vegetarian and vegan options. Swimming at the head of the school of pub fare is blackened salmon, served with spinach, blue-cheese crumbles, roasted almonds, and raspberry balsamic dressing. A meatless marriage of burger and fries can be easily arranged by swapping a beef or turkey patty for a black-bean patty. Milltown has 12 beers on tap, and hosts regular dance contests, karaoke bashes, trivia nights, and movie nights—there's even a 15-foot TV for football games. During warmer weather, enjoy your meal in the outdoor dining garden.
Cuisine Type: Fresh, veggie-friendly Mexican food
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 5?10
Parking: Free street parking
Most popular offering: Seafood tacos, chile rellenos, enchiladas
Alcohol: Full bar
Delivery / Take-out Available: Takeout Only
Outdoor Seating: Yes
What made you want to work with food? When did you first develop that passion?
I grew up cooking Italian food, learning to cook from scratch from my mother. I began learning authentic Mexican recipes while living in Austin, Texas after college. My best friend's mother was a fantastic cook and instilled in me a love for fresh ingredients and the preparation of flavorful traditional dishes. Over the years I have worked at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina Del Ray, the Regent Beverly Wilshire and other fine dining establishments, but never lost my affection for the Mexican cooking I learned in Texas. After opening The Taco Shoppe, I have expanded my repertoire and begun creating my own recipes and variations on the traditional Mexican fare.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
When I arrived in Government Camp after working at several local establishments like Timberline Lodge and Edgefield, I opened a small take-out place in 2002. In late 2013 The Taco Shoppe reopened as a full-service restaurant with a full bar. The new space and expanded menu allows me to try out new recipes and margaritas. Cozy booths surround the walls and large windows offer views of picturesque downtown Govy, a tiny mountain community surrounded by several ski resorts on and near Mount Hood. In the summer, the town becomes a haven for skateboarders and offers year-round opportunities for skiers and snowboarders.
Do you use any family recipes at your restaurant? Whose family do they belong to?
All the recipes are my creations, including homemade chips and salsas. One of my passions (besides skiing!) is wild mushroom hunting, and the chanterelles, boletes, and morels find their way into my kitchen, as well as inspire the decor in the restaurant.
In your own words, how would you describe your menu?
The Taco Shoppe serves up fresh, authentic Mexican dishes like chile rellenos, enchiladas, carne asada, and tamales. Most entrees come with a side of our homemade fire-roasted red salsa or spicy green chile, or specialties like fresh grilled pineapple salsa. Many items are vegetarian and/or gluten-free. Depending on the season, you may find on offer such specialties as local, wild mushroom soups and enchiladas, or fresh steelhead, salmon, or rockfish tacos. From the bar, you can try a Mexican martini or a local draft, but you would be remiss if you didn't try a fresh-squeezed house margarita with Cazadores tequila and Patron Citronge orange liqueur.
Fueled by an insatiable fan base built selling tamales at bazaars and markets, the Tamale Factory has evolved into a takeout shop that’s “unlike anything else in the area,” according to The Oregonian.
Each handmade tamale begins with corn flour dough that is filled with beef and pork as well as vegetarian-friendly ingredients such as jalapenos and cheese, which are cooked in vegetable oil instead of lard. After adding mild red or green chile sauce, each tamale is wrapped in a corn husk before slow-cooking it in a steaming pot. For customers who can resist digging in on the spot, Tamale Factory's instructions explain how to reheat your tamales in a microwave, steaming basket, or witch’s cauldron.
Sizzling steak and acoustic guitars battle for attention on Saturday nights at Gaucho's Argentine Cuisine. Argentinian chef Hans's menu is highlighted by traditional dishes, such as empanadas and grilled hanger steak, as well as contemporary cuisine that includes a mushroom Alfredo ravioli. Gaucho's features a full kids menu for children and anyone with a second, slightly smaller stomach.
Salvador Molly's staff emulates legendary namesake Captain Salvador by pillaging culinary treasures from Ethiopia, Hawaii, Thailand, New Orleans, and Jamaica and gathering them together in an eatery that grew from humble beginnings as a hot-tamale cart. Frequent food challenges, the proceeds of which help low-income Oregon families foot heating bills, revolve around consumption of the menu's signature Great Balls of Fire fritters–spicy spheres featured on the Travel Channel's Man v. Food. Patrons who demolish all five habanero-cheese fritters with all the accompanying sauce get their picture added to the Hall of Flame and move onto the subsequent challenge of making out with a bonfire. Other far-flung entrees, such as the Hawaiian-inspired Tiki Mac with cheesy sweet potatoes, the Bayou Crunch catfish, and Molly's hot tamales, stuffed with yucatan chicken and cotija cheese, mirror the interior's exotic décor.
Photos of foreign locales crowd Salvador Molly's walls, surrounding colorful baubles that illuminate tables embellished with painted flames and vibrant cocktails. A wall dedicated to Africa flaunts a mural depicting desert terrain, stationed caddy-corner to African artifacts including a wooden mask. On Monday, diners feast upon culture by projecting two featured films directly into their mouths.