Derrick Braziel’s taco stand, Pata Roja, only recently sprouted up in the parking lot outside of Bar Saeso, but its roots run deep—it is the delectable culmination of Braziel’s 13 trips to Mexico and his month-long stint at a taqueria in Mexico City. Each dish at Pata Roja reflects his team’s commitment to authentic, regional Mexican food.
You can order tacos à la carte for $4 apiece or buy three for $10. I went with the meaty trifecta: bistec (steak), pollo (chicken), and al pastor (marinated pork)—each served on a soft corn tortilla with shredded cheese griddle-fried into it (for extra deliciousness), then topped with onion, cilantro, and a creamy, bright orange salsa. Each taco was filled to its edges with meat; Pata Roja doesn’t skimp. As a food writer, I’m supposed to slow down and savor each dish, but the juicy, lightly charred pork and pineapple of the al pastor, the chopped chicken with its BBQ-like sweetness, and the soft, savory steak broke through my futile attempts at decorum and professional responsibility. Ditto for the side of smoky arroz rojo (Mexican rice).
After my meal, Braziel told me that one of his missions is to make regional Mexican food more accessible. Thanks to stands like this, it’s sure to happen.
Pata Roja (at Bar Saeso), 1208 Sycamore St., Pendleton