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Victorico's is drive-thru fare with authentic Mexican flair

The founders of a new quick-service chain that recently expanded to Medford know there’s always room for more Mexican food.

In this case, it isn’t just more of the same. While Victorico’s Mexican Food prepares plenty of tacos, burritos, fajitas and enchiladas full of chicken and beef with vegetarian and vegan options, the eatery headlines tortas, tamales and chiles rellenos with carnitas, chorizo, beef tongue and even beef cheek. It’s the kind of fare diners expect from neighborhood taquerias and no-frills food trucks, but Victorico’s affords customers a drive-thru, online ordering platform and even delivery from DoorDash.

Victorico’s shares its block on East Barnett Road with Del Taco. Clearly, the former has sized up competition in a town with two Muchas Gracias locations, which incubated the Victorico’s concept. Growing up in the extended family that owns Muchas Gracias restaurants, cousins Ivan Orozco and Victor Sanchez started their Salem-based chain in fall 2019. In scarcely more than a year, Victorico’s has six locations in the Portland metro area, as well as Longview, Wash. Medford is the southernmost outpost.

Victorico’s bright orange facelift of the former KFC on Barnett caught my attention a couple of weeks ago. A late breakfast for my kids, and early lunch for me, enticed us to Victorico’s drive-thru, where the menu board might have been a tad overwhelming if I hadn’t previewed it online.

Victorico’s attractively priced kids’ menu offers bean and cheese burritos, quesadillas and crunchy tacos, each for $4.59 with rice, beans and a drink. But my kids had their palates primed for burritos of the breakfast variety. From choices of bacon, sausage and ham, they selected the first. If I’d been in the breakfast mood, it would have warranted a chorizo breakfast burrito. Prices run from $6.99 for sausage or ham to $8.49 for two meats.

Rare is the opportunity to obtain beef tongue at a Southern Oregon drive-thru, so I seized the moment by ordering a single soft taco for $3.99. The gamut of fillings, from pork carnitas to carne asada, even fish and shrimp, is available in this format. Or get four smaller “street tacos” for $7.99.

The same goes for burritos, which spin off into the french fry-stuffed “Cali” burrito, the steak and shrimp “surf and turf” burrito, the fajita burrito, the chile relleno burrito and vegan and vegetarian burritos. Prices start at $6.99 and top out at $8.99. I discovered this year that, second only to chorizo and eggs, my preferred burrito filling is chile relleno, but I definitely didn’t have room for a burrito on top of a soft taco.

A single chile relleno as a side order ($3.99), however, was doable. And because a menu photo prominently touts “Vic’s tots” with sour cream and cheese ($3.99), I was powerless to resist. Potatoes also get the star treatment as steak- and cheese-smothered carne asada fries for $11.99.

Strong branding defines Victorico’s, but so does authenticity, according to an October 2019 article in the Statesman Journal. Orozco and Sanchez both started washing dishes in the family business but grew to understand sales data and drive-thru times. They homed in on the best-selling items and found ways to simplify without stripping down service to pick-a-base, pick-a-protein, like Chipotle, or separating Victorico’s from its cultural context.

But unlike the majority of Mexican menus in the region, Victorico’s doesn’t parade endless variations on combination plates. It has 10, priced from $8.99 for chicken or beef tacos or enchiladas to $13.49 for steak or shrimp fajitas.

And don’t forget about drinks and desserts. Victorico’s mixes up classic Mexican horchata and jamaica to wash down churros and flan, $3.49 and $3.99, respectively.

Freshly fried, cinnamon-dusted churros presented powerful motivation for my kids to tackle their hearty burritos. Both voiced a dislike for the potatoes, so next time we’d choose the “ranchero,” which omits spuds and adds pico de Gallo. Priced at $6.99, the ranchero saves a bit of cash, too.

The boys did approve, though, of “Vic’s tots,” particularly the ones dripping in melted cheese that hadn’t softened from soaking up too much sour cream. The tots’ presentation almost calls for a fork, but I didn’t mind licking my fingers.

Sour cream also pooled around my chile relleno, nicely battered and fried before getting a bath in red sauce under a blanket of cheese. I find the eggy flavor prominent in many versions of this dish, but Victorico’s was strong on the chile, vibrantly green with a bright, clean taste that defied the layers of fat encasing it. I favor queso fresco over cheddar on my chile and in a reduced quantity. But Victorico’s recipe otherwise delivers on this classic.

Likewise, the beef tongue (lengua) taco was simply presented with onion and cilantro, letting the meat’s savor shine through. Chopping the tongue small and crisping it makes for easier eating than some of the more gelatinous versions I’ve enjoyed.

The flan also offered a satisfying texture, dense and eggy tempered with the slight bitterness of caramel sauce. And there was no mistaking this custard — cut into a rectangle from a bigger portion — as house-made. The churros were less distinctive but no less delicious.

Located at 308 E. Barnett Road, Victorico’s is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

See the menu and order at victoricos.com

Tempo Tidbits

Suggest the season’s hottest soup and win a gift card to DANCIN Vineyards.

The Medford winery, beginning Friday, Jan. 8, is soliciting ideas for soup specials to feature during the month of February. Entries will be accepted on DANCIN’s social media accounts through Jan. 15. Eight semifinalists selected by the winery staff each will receive $20 gift cards.

The top four entrants, determined by a public vote, will see their soups among DANCIN’s weekly specials next month. DANCIN’s recent soup specials have included red pepper tomato bisque, broccoli cheddar, butternut squash and cauliflower. The contest builds on DANCIN’s pizza competition last fall.

To enter, comment on DANCIN’s contest posts to Instagram and Facebook. Garnishes and bread accompaniments are encouraged but not required. Limit entries to one per person. Go to @dancinvineyards on Instagram and facebook.com/DANCINVineyards.

Located at 4477 S. Stage Road, DANCIN is open for dining at its numerous outdoor accommodations, which include a patio, terrace, picnic area, “fire bars,” and covered piazza. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made online. The winery also has booked live music Fridays through January.

DANCIN is open from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. See dancin.com. Call 541-245-1133.

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A new food service tailors meals to your tastes, including free delivery in Medford and Ashland.

Boxed meals are an offshoot of menus at Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine and Luna Cafe restaurants in Ashland. Both eateries bring their expertise in catering to crafting custom meals, starting at $14 apiece. The service is available throughout the month of January.

Whether it’s a hearty breakfast, employee appreciation lunch or family dinner, the restaurants can create one-of-a-kind dining experiences at your workplace or home. Inside Larks’ recent lunch boxes were oven-roasted turkey sandwiches on sourdough bread with cranberry cream cheese, field greens and candied walnuts with fresh fruit, chips and house made cookies.

Prices are variable, based on ingredients and client requests. The boxes include food components; recipients provide napkins and flatware.

To order, email Jason Nelson, sales manager for Neuman Hotel Group, at jason@neumanhotelgroup.com or call 541-324-8412.

See larksashland.com and lunacafeashland.com

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Have a Tempo tidbit to share? Email news about the local dining, food and beverage scene to: thewholedish@gmail.com

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Sarah Lemon has relished the Rogue Valley’s dining scene for nearly two decades as one of the original contributors to Tempo’s dining column. Her palate has helped to judge some of the region’s culinary competitions and festivals. The former editor of A la Carte, the Mail Tribune’s weekly food section, she writes a biweekly column, The Whole Dish, and blogs and podcasts under the same name. Listen at mailtribune.com/podcasts and read more at mailtribune.com/lifestyle/the-whole-dish. Follow @the.whole. dish on Instagram, @thewholedish on Twitter or see facebook.com/thewholedish.

“Vic’s tots” come garnished with sour cream and cheddar cheese at Victorico’s.
Churros from Victorico’s.