Best Latin American Cuisine – Eugene Weekly
Tacovore 530, boul. Blair 541-735-3518. TacovorePNW.com.
El Buen Sabor 650, boul. Blair 541-653-2517. ElBuenSabor.us.
Nelson Lopez’s two restaurants are wearing many Best Of crowns this year: Best Latin American Food, Best Takeout, Best Server, Best Food Cart, Best New Restaurant. And can you blame the readers? Whether you visit Nelson’s in the Whit (located in the historic Tiny Tavern building) or Nelson’s Taqueria (in the Tiny Tavern parking lot), you’re not only eating affordable but amazing food, but Lopez treats every customer like they was the most important person in the world. And he says he’s glad customers love him back.
Food prices, like everything else, go up over time, but Lopez says he works hard to keep his prices affordable at Nelson’s Taqueria. The entire cart menu is under $15, whether you order multiple tacos or a huge burrito. Lopez says he carefully monitors the prices of his food vendors so customers don’t have to see menu prices go up.
The most popular item at Nelson’s Taqueria and Nelson’s in the Whit, Lopez says, is the birria, which he marinates overnight with a 16-spice blend. Birria, beef brisket in the United States, has its day in Eugene, where food carts and Mexican restaurants offer some kind of it. More commonly served in town as quesabirria, where birria fills a cheese tortilla, Nelson’s quesabirria tacos are filled with tender meat and are so good it’s worth marking your calendars for Tuesdays and Fridays, the only days he serves them. He limits his availability, he says, because it takes so long to cook and he doesn’t want to serve old birria to customers. “It is better to sell it fresh,” he adds.
Lopez opened Nelson’s in the Whit in November 2021, moving into the Tiny Tavern, a building in the Whiteaker neighborhood recognized on the U.S. National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. Lopez not only celebrates Nelson’s in the Whit one year anniversary, but also Abby Young at the restaurant, who is this year’s top waiter. And he agrees with readers because she treats customers like him. “You have to give your customer the heart, the smile,” says Lopez. “You have to give flavor to your drinks. She’s in charge of making the gourmet margaritas, and people love it.