When I found the door my mother and I were greeted by a tall young woman in black with a sleek ponytail. She picked up two menus and shows us to a table in the middle of the busy concrete floor.
Opposite the windows, a long, dark wooden bar circled with steel stools faced tables lined up against the windows. I sat down in my metal chair and looked behind me and saw a shining sign showing the words “Port Fonda” with lightbulbs making up the letters. Turning around in my chair even more, the same boar shown on the restaurant’s sign outside looked like it was running across the wall with a shower of arrows coming after it.
One thing I immediately judge about a hispanic restaurant is their chips and salsa. It’s the universal rule of all mexican restaurants.
My mom knows me too well and ordered guacamole with the chips and salsa. The first thing I noticed about it when it arrived was the chips. They were a different color than the Tostitos tortilla chips that I’m accustomed to. They were salmon pink, and thicker too.
Two salsas, one green and one red, were set on the table between us. Lauren told us that the red one was spicier than the other while the green was smokier. I’m usually pretty suspicious of any salsa that isn’t red, but the green, smoky one was really good. The chips were a lot more salty than what I was used to, but all of this seemed a welcome change from your run of the mill chips and salsa.
Scanning the menu, I noticed that some of the dishes featured things like octopus. I usually consider myself an adventurous eater, but I decided to take the safe route.
Our waitress described the restaurant as Mexican street food or even Mexican barbeque.
She also told us that the restaurant features a variety of tacos, soups, sandwiches and oven cooked dishes. She added on that her favorite was the Diesmillo, an oven-cooked beef dish. That sounded really good, so I ordered that.
I was watching Pennsylvania Avenue get darker outside the windows and chatting with my mom when the food came. It didn’t take very long at all, only about 10 minutes. My Diesmillo came in a dark red bowl like container set on a white ceramic plate. It had just come out of the oven. Underneath the plate was a container with several small tortillas.
I immediately got to work putting some of the beef and sauce onto a tortilla and wrapping it up. The meat had been slow cooked so it was stringy and tender, almost like barbecued pulled pork. Instead of barbecue sauce, though, a thin dark red sauce along with onions and peppers had been poured over the beef.
After taking my first bite, sauce trickled down the back of my hand from my taco. The meat was tender, the sauce was delicious. I loved the way the tortilla and the beef worked with each other and the sauce. I had never really eaten anything like it before. The sauce was sweeter than anything that I had ever had with beef before and I had never eaten beef cooked like that as far as I can remember. The sweet sauce coupled with flavorful, tender beef along with crisp flour tortilla created a great meal.
My mom and I decided not to stay for dessert. In any case, I felt like I had a good understanding of the kind of restaurant Port Fonda was.
It was a very cool, down to earth restaurant. It was a restaurant where you could find everyone from bearded flannel wearing hipsters to a couple from Prairie Village out for their 23rd anniversary. It was a unique restaurant that gave me a new experience in one of my favorite parts of the city with something for everything, which is something I very much appreciate.