Since he was 15, Fabian “Fabo” Rosas knew he wanted to open his own taqueria. Two years ago, knee-deep in the pandemic, he did just that. After running pop-ups for a couple years with a canopy and griddle behind Chop Shop in Hillsboro, he and his wife, Tyanna Rosas, opened Fabo’s Tacos as a late-night window in Old Town. From 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, late-night revelers sauntering out of Dante’s or Dixie Tavern have ordered quesabirria from the Northwest 4th taco window, dunking shredded-beef-filled tacos into takeout cups of consomé, onions and cilantro floating above the depths.
While tacos at the window serve as a source of grab-and-go sustenance to soak up libations for hungry bar and club-goers, Fabo Rosas’ hope is that his full-fledged taqueria, just a few steps away from the original window, will serve as a place where the pace slows down a bit. The taqueria opened Sunday, March 5, replete with indoor seating, Modelo on tap, and a proper cocktail menu, as well as full-plate entrees like alambres and enchiladas. Still, the taquero stresses that this a taqueria first and foremost. “That’s the main focus,” he says. “What goes better than a beer and taco, or tacos and tequila?”
Sandwiched in between legendary retro arcade Ground Kontrol and Elevate Nightclub out on Fifth Avenue between Couch and Davis, the newly open restaurant attracts curious patrons who wander in throughout the day. Inside, the aromas and sounds of sizzling carnitas, suadero, and carne asada envelop the room, Mariachi and Reggaeton music blaring amid lively chatter as folks queue up and await open tables.
Among the usual taco suspects like carnitas, lengua, and chorizo are lesser-known cuts like suadero, a thin brisket cut. Fluffy and crispy house-made sopes also round out the menu, and Fabo’s Tacos will also feature freshly made corn and flour tortillas in the weeks to come.
On Sundays, Fabo’s will offer a brunch menu with Mexican staples like chilaquiles and huevos rancheros, while breakfast tacos with flour tortillas are still on the horizon. “I’m still tweaking the recipe for the flour tortillas, they’re not where I want them yet,” he says.
Coming out of the seemingly never-ending pandemic, Old Town is slowly becoming a place where pedestrians come and go, stepping on and off the MAX and wandering into nearby boutiques and shops. Remembering the glory days as a born-and-raised Portlander, Fabo Rosas remembers spending time in Old Town as a younger man. “Old Town was the new Pearl District,” he says. “A lot of people don’t really know that. Old Town was how the Pearl District is now. It was beautiful.” That desire to reestablish this pedestrian-friendly neighborhood is the taquero’s MO, and he’s not shy about it. “My new neighbors have welcomed me with open arms, and everyone is trying to pitch in to get this area looking like it used to,” he says.
Open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fabo Rosas hopes his taqueria will happily accompany Elevate Nightclub next door and function as a pre-game spot of sorts, while the window lives on as a post-club pick-me-up. “I already conquered the late-night taco game,” he says.
The Fabo’s Tacos taqueria is located at 121 NW 5th Avenue, while the window remains open at 28 NW 4th Avenue.