by Clackamas Review
New downtown restaurants spur hope that city's core is rebuilding.
Milwaukie Mayor Jim Bernard said he is pleased to see “members of the community coming downtown to greet their neighbors” as they dine in two new restaurants that just recently opened across from each other on Main Street in Milwaukie.
“I was talking to Ray Peck, the owner of the Wind Horse Coffee Shop, and he said he was thrilled to see downtown so full of people,” Bernard added. The two new eateries are Casa de Tamales, the first offshoot restaurant of the Canby Asparagus Farm, and Hartwell’s, the first business to open in North Main Village.
Casa de Tamales
What is it about tamales that makes them so comforting?
Eileen Winters, the manager of Casa de Tamales, thinks it is that they “warm you from the inside out. Prepared correctly, they are very light and flavorful.” As to be expected, tamales figure prominently in the menu at Casa de Tamales, although diners may choose open-face burritos, tacos, quesadillas and even Mexican breakfast items, among other things. “There are two different specials every day,” Winters said, adding that the restaurant uses the freshest produce available, much of it coming from Winters Farm, her brother’s place in Troutdale.
Milwaukie a “Convenient Choice”
Brandon Maes, the owner of Casa de Tamales, said he chose the downtown Milwaukie site for the restaurant, because “it is nice and convenient.” The restaurant opened on Nov. 10, in a newly renovated spot just across the street from North Main Village. The big open dining room is painted in warm colors, and the walls are adorned with art from “the house we live in,” Maes said. The food at Casa de Tamales will be familiar to anyone who has ever eaten at the Canby Asparagus Farm booth at the Milwaukie Farmers Market. Maes said his family has owned the asparagus farm since 1991, and he noted, they have booths at 13 other farmers markets, “as far as Astoria and Eugene.”
Tamales and More
Charles Maes, Brandon Maes’ father, described Casa de Tamale as “a take-out restaurant and deli,” where diners are welcome to have a sit-down meal, or order ahead for food to go. “We make our own pastry, we make our own chips and we feature Oaxaca mole,” Charles Maes said.
The restaurant opens at 7 a.m., and serves up “three types of Mexican breakfasts,” including a Spanish omelet and breakfast burrito, he noted. “We grill fresh vegetables for the vegetarian burritos, served open face,” said Winters. Diners may then add chicken, pork or beef to the burrito. Fillings for tamales include asparagus, pork with asparagus, chicken with asparagus, or pork and chicken.
A specialty tamale is called a nacatamal, which Winters said is “a Nicaraguan-style tamale, melding six different flavors, with vegetables, meat, plums and raisins.”
Wrapped in a banana leaf and tied with string like a present, the nacatamal is a “meal in itself,” Charles Maes said.
Prices for entrees range from $5, for a cheese quesadilla, to $6 to $7.50 for rice and bean combo-platters with a tamale, taco, burrito or meat quesadilla. The most expensive dishes are the nacatamal and grilled asparagus with butterfly shrimp, $9 each.
“We also make wonderful desserts, like empanadas, featuring freshly made corn tortillas, wrapped around hot fillings in cherry, peach, apple, lemon and pumpkin,” Winters said.
For the holiday season, Brandon Maes expects “lots of people to order Christmas tamales or for New Year’s — it is traditional to have tamales.”
Winters, who noted that she is a “partner in this restaurant and in the farmers market,” said she thinks Casa de Tamales is a real plus for downtown Milwaukie. “It brings people downtown and it gives residents an option as to where to go to dinner. It also brings a sense of community and allows people to support local industry.”
Casa de Tamales is located at 10605 SE Main St. in Milwaukie.
They can be reached at 503-654-4423.
They’re open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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