One of my last nights in Portland I went to dinner with my mom and I decided we’d check out Teote in SE Portland. Teote describes itself as a Latin American street food experience celebrating gluten-free arepas. It seemed like a solid choice because my mom also is gluten-free, plus she had never had arepas before. Arepas are one of my favorite foods and I was curious how the arepas in Portland would stack up to the ones in Miami.
Teote’s front is almost two-stories of windows and lit up, so it looked really cool walking up at night. Inside it feels like a really warm space. Everything on the menu is gluten-free, except for the pernil arepa (braised pork roast). I zoomed in instantly on some arepas and also the masa fritas. A quick Google search said that they are fried dough strips. We went for the masa nosh, which was an order of masa fritas with verde sauce, black beans, and cheese on top. I got the El Diablo arepa and the chorizo and plantain arepa, while my mom got the lamb chops.
The masa nosh came first and were like nachos but soft strips of dough instead of chips. The texture reminded me of large french fries or fried plantains. It was similar actually to some plantain nachos I had at a Heat game a few months back. It was dough-y enough to appreciate it was gluten-free. With all the toppings the masa frita didn’t have a super distinct taste that I could tell (in the plantain nachos the plantains were much more distinct), but the dish overall tasted really good.
The arepas were a little different than I am used to. I’ve had arepas where one is split open and stuffed with fillings and then ones where two arepas are used like a sandwich. The ones at Teote came out in a bowl with a lot of “filling” and two arepas just on the side. I’ve also had arepas that ranged from soft to super crispy. Generally the Venezuelan arepas have been more soft and the Colombian arepas have been more crisp. Teote gets their masa (corn flour) from Colombia and the arepas at Teote were crispy like Colombian arepas I’ve had before.
The El Diablo arepa was pork belly in a red chili maple sauce, topped with pickled onions, verde sauce and queso. The red chili maple sauce had a kick, but also sweetness. It reminded me almost of a spciy-sweet BBQ sauce and the pork belly had a texture like pulled pork. I scooped some of the toppings on each arepa to eat it. There was quite a bit of filling leftover and I enjoyed the pork belly just by itself. I was a big big fan of the El Diablo. The chorizo and plantain arepa wasn’t sausage like in Colombian arepas, but instead was ground meat more like what I associate with Mexican chorizo. It was saucy but not that spicy. The plantains added in were a nice touch.
My mom’s lamb chops came with beans, rice, salad, fried plantains & buttered arepa on the side. It was in a smoky chili sauce, but not really spicy. She really liked the lamb chops and also liked trying out the arepa on the side.
Teote was definitely a good experience. I liked that it was sort of like Latin fusion so the arepas had toppings that I am unlikely to find on traditional arepas in Miami, especially the El Diabo arepa. The masa frita were also a nice dish to experience. If you’re looking for a lot of gluten-free options and/or curious about arepas (or already a fan!) Teote provides a great twist on arepas in Portland. Check it out!
Teote- 1615 SE 12th Ave Portland, OR