One lesson of El Rayo Cantina is that it's often better to take an upscale approach and bring it down a notch, as they do at the Cantina, than to fancy up something fundamentally scrappy, as they do at the Taqueria — just as it's more moving to see Federer dig in and win ugly, than a grinder like Nadal try some delicate tennis. Similarly, in their upcoming election Mexicans might do better to elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has shown a willingness to muddy his idealism to confront the ugly realities of Mexican politics (though his campaign motto is still "hugs, not bullets"), than the incredibly handsome Enrique Peña Nieto, who puts a pretty sheen on the hopeless corruption of the PRI. The El Rayo Cantina has Nieto-like style, but Obradorean substance. It's a very pleasing combination.
$ | El Rayo Cantina | 85 York St, Portland | daily 5 pm-1 am | Visa/MC/Amex/Disc | 207.780.8466
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