Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, December 16, 2017

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FOOD AND DRINK & MORE Mountain Views-News Saturday, December 16, 29017 
Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: 
TABLE FOR TWO by Peter Dills 
CalBRE# 02015404 
Exclusively Represented By: 
30 N. Baldwin Avenue 
Sierra Madre 91024 
Thank you for your continued business 
& friendship in the coming new year! 
It seems that every week I get this question, Peter, Wishing you & your family 
who has the best Mexican Food in Pasadena? 
That is not an easy question to answer; as you 
may as well ask me which child I love the most. 
I absolutely love Mexican food; in fact, living in 
Southern California we have the best Mexican 
cuisine in the entire country, and dare I say, the 
Recently I had the honor to dine with Abel 
Ramirez owner of the El Portal Restaurant 
on Colorado in Pasadena. I was invited to a 
tasting of Patron Tequila, not that I haven’t 
had Patron before, but this was special 
Tequila pairing with food. On this night, I 
got to know Abel a little better and I soon 
discovered that his story is fascinating. He 
was beaming as he told me, that years ago, 
Hank Yost, owner of countless restaurants 
in the area, including the Peppermill and 
Shakers, hired Abel as a dishwasher. Abel 
started his career at the bottom and worked 
his way up. It seemed to me that El Portal 
has been around for years, but in actuality, 
it opened in 1995. Abel is a proud member 
of the community, you may have seen him at 
numerous charity events, and come December, 
he dons the white jacket for the Tournament of 
Roses. His son Armando helps run El Portal, 
now. Armando tells me, “His dad is semi-retired, 
but I still see him here fifty hours a week.” That is 
not the Peter Dills idea of retirement! 
El Portal, in Spanish, means gateway or Big 
Door. Abel wanted a restaurant that all of his 
extended family could dine at. I mentioned 
Mexican Food, I did, but El Portal showcase many 
dishes that you would find ensconced in The 
Yucatan Peninsula. On the night of the Tequila 
Tasting, I enjoyed Steak and Chicken. This is not 
steakhouse, or is it, but either way, I do think it is 
every bite as good as the top steak places in town. 
Well, to make the review complete this 
restaurant critic is firm in not giving two thumbs 
up unless the Margaritas match the great food, 
and at El Portal they do. The Margaritas are great, 
if you are tequila fan, El Portal serves 90 different 
types, and they range from ($7 to $30) a shot, have 
you ever had a ($30) shot of tequila? I haven’t!! 
But I have a feeling I could break a piñata on the 
first swing after I do. And after two, I may start 
singing with the mariachis. 
But, let’s get back to the food, sure they have the 
traditional Mexican entrees, but I want you to try 
some of the Yucatan dishes as well. The Mexican 
fare is delightful, but El Portal offers some dishes 
that are unique to the Pasadena dining scene. Let’s 
start with my favorite dish, The Cochinita Pibil, 
flavorful and tender pork, marinated in achiote 
spice and lime juice wrapped in banana leaves, 
Abel tells me it is slowly roasted in the oven. Man 
it is good! Pancuchos, small corn tortillas filled 
with grilled chicken, black beans and avocado. If 
you can’t make up your mind, then I recommend 
the Yucatan Trio, It is a portion of the cochinita 
Pibil, ayucatan tamale and grilled poc-chuc. 
These dishes are so good, my stomach is racing as 
I writing about them.. 
El Portal Restaurant 695 E. Green St. Pasadena 
(626) 795-8553. Open seven days a week, lunch 
on Mondays only. for 
additional info