Inside Lenora, a beautiful, upscale taco spot that opened in February in the former home of Walter’s in downtown Portland. Photo by Megan Gray

The most important bite of any meal is the last one.

I love to sink my teeth into new flavors for the first time. And a delicious meal obviously has many nice bites in the middle. But I always carefully construct my final mouthful by mopping up the last of a yummy sauce, leaving a little bit of each ingredient for one more forkful or passing my pizza crust to my husband.

I went searching for that perfect finish at Lenora, a neighborhood taco bar that opened in February in the Old Port. Inside, the first impression was that it was beautiful and upscale. I had never been inside Walter’s, its predecessor, but the renovated space is warm and bright. The sills are lined with thriving succulents, and I’m just going to tell myself that mine look so sad by comparison only because I don’t have the luxury of two-story windows in my apartment.

The menu is inspired by Mexican street food. Lenora is open every day from breakfast to late night. There’s a small café-style breakfast menu with baked goods, a guava-and-cheese turnover that I will definitely be ordering upon return, a breakfast taco, and an egg sandwich (both with or without meat). My husband and I stopped in for a late weekday lunch and ordered from the slightly larger menu of “all day food.” There was a robust list of coffee drinks, cocktails and nonalcoholic options. We sat at the bar but skipped the tempting selection of margaritas (we both had to go back to work) and went for a Topo Chico and a cortado instead.

The food menu includes small plates such as street corn and wings, as well as tostadas and tortas. But we were in the mood for tacos, which are the centerpiece at Lenora. All the soft corn tortillas are made in house. We chose five of the seven options to split: Baja fish, carnitas, barbacoa, mushroom dorados and El Paso (a Tex-Mex ground beef). We both eat meat but were glad to see multiple fish and vegetarian options as well. We didn’t experiment with the salsas (served with chips, $5 each) or taco sauces ($2 each), but hope to try them on a future visit.

Mushroom, carnitas and El Paso tacos from Lenora in Portland. Photo by Megan Gray

We thought about adding the corn or chile con queso, but our tacos cost between $5.50 to $6.50 each, so we decided to stop ourselves there before our quick lunch date got too pricey.

Each taco came out of the kitchen as soon as it was ready. It was a quiet moment in the mid-afternoon, and our first one arrived within minutes. All were delicious. Some were a little messy (keep that tiny plate close when you take a bite of the juicy barbacoa). But the amount of filling was just right for the small tortillas, and the toppings were all balanced perfectly. The mushroom taco was a highlight, served in a crispy folded shell with cheese, peppers and onions, and a burnt corn crema.

One of the last tacos to arrive at our seats was the carnitas, always my favorite. The pork was tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. The toppings (salsa, onion, cilantro, queso fresco) were straightforward and fresh. The portions were right, so I got a little bit of everything, even at the end. The last bite? Just right.

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