When I first visited Republica — the Mexican restaurant in Ecotrust Building in the Pearl District — I immediately fell in love with the rich and earthy mushroom tacos. Republica is a gem for two main reasons: one, the menu showcases a range of Mexican dishes not often seen in Portland; two, the menu is built on collaboration, bringing together several talented chefs, rather than focusing on a single individual.
Republica’s Vegan Tasting Menu
During the day, you’ll find guisado tacos, tortas, and soups at Republica. In the evening, Republica celebrates its Mexican roots with a one-0f-a-kind tasting menu that is both ancestral and modern at the same time. The kithcen can easily tweak the vegetarian tasting menu to be vegan, but it’s best that you give them a heads up when making your reservation.
This was my first tasting menu experience since the pandemic hit, and I left the restaurant wowed through and through. Republica’s playful twist on aguachile is one of the most memorable dishes I’ve had all year: compressed watermelon in a bright summery broth with spiraled cucumber towers, sliced cherries, and cucumber caviar. We then moved on through a series of savory dishes, like the cozy and comforting risotto-like arroz with huitlacoche — a delicious fungus that grows on corn — to the juicy porcini mushrooms with sweet, nutty pepitas and the most spectacular mole. You’ll want to scoop up and savor every last bit of mole with the tortillas. My photo really doesn’t do this dish justice.
To accompany the tasting menu, Republica highlights Mexican and Mexican-American winemakers, as well as a wide selection of mezcal and tequila. The Variations on the Word Love, a summery combination of tequila, tamarind, ginger, lime, and agave, was a stunning opening cocktail for this meal, before I moved on to wine.