If you enjoy reviews because you secretly hope to read snarky comments about an establishment, then stop right now – Woodfords Corner’s brand-new cocktails-and-tacos bar, Bird & Co., gets nothing but respect from me.
My positive experience started even before I entered. I was so excited about tacos and cocktails that I accidentally got there 10 minutes before it opened, and the smell wafting out from the restaurant was reminiscent of some of my best memories in Mexico. I was about to chew off my arm when a man (Wills Dowd, co-owner with Jared Dinsmore) opened the door and – instead of just saying, “We don’t open until 3” – asked if I’d mind giving him 10 more minutes.
The excellent customer service continued once my drinking companion and I were seated at the bar counter, where we found both purse hooks and electrical outlets – more bonus points.
Located where Abilene used to be, Bird & Co. is light, airy and inviting. My friend ordered a classic margarita for $5 (happy hour price), and I went with the $9 version of an Old Fashioned, taken to the next level by the addition of black walnut bitters, a magical ingredient with which I am now obsessed.
The margarita was everything a margarita should be, containing the juice of about seven fresh limes and nothing artificial. The Old Fashioned was exquisite, with a delicate layering of flavors in perfect proportion. There was also a decent selection of beer and wine, with glasses of wine from $6 to $13. During happy hour (3-6 p.m.), domestic bottled beers are $2.50, 16-ounce PBRs and Tecates are $2, margaritas and well drinks are $5, the house red and white are $4, the house Prosecco is $5, and the grilled chicken, carne asada and carnitas tacos are $3.
The full menu is cleverly divided into “Tacos” and “Not Tacos.” From the former, two items stood out: the $6 carnitas taco (pork, pickled onion, cilantro, avocado crema and cotija cheese in a house-made corn tortilla, although you can substitute flour) and the $7 tuna poke taco (yellowfin tuna, avocado, pickled radish, spicy mayo, sesame and furikake, a dry Japanese seasoning, in a crispy flour tortilla). In both cases, each individual ingredient was optimally fresh and flavorful, with the final combination a masterful marriage of tastes and textures. We also loved the $7 guacamole and the $6 churros, and plan to return soon to taste other menu items such as the $6 bahn mi taco or the $7 elotes (grilled Mexican street corn).
Dowd and Dinsmore plan to expand both the food menu and the cocktail menu, with most cocktails ranging from $8 to $12. They envision a neighborhood bar serving a mix of traditional and fusion items, such as the corned beef and cabbage taco they served on St. Patrick’s Day. Great, now I’m going to have to return there on every holiday to see what they’ve come up with – and to have another black walnut Old Fashioned.
WHERE: 539 Deering Ave., Portland
PHONE: (207) 747-4056
WEBSITE: On Facebook
HOURS: 3-10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 3-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 3-9 p.m. Sunday
AMENITIES: Happy hour 3-6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; corn tortillas made in house.
BOTTOM LINE: Unless you prefer to slog through life without even a glimmer of happiness, you should head straight to Bird & Co. Is it possible that soon the word tacocktail will be trending?
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes, although only one table is low enough for a wheelchair user.