The food cart takes its name from the “soldaderas,” women who played a critical role in the conflict of the Mexican Revolution as commanding officers, combatants and camp followers.”

                                                                   — Dora Reyna

Not long ago, a customer ordered a traditional pozole from a food cart. It had been a few long hard weeks, and tasting the dish brought comforting thoughts of the old country. The flavors broke the space-time continuum , and tears of nostalgia ran down his cheeks. The cart was Las Adelas at the popular Portland Mercado.

Dora Reyna, owner of Las Adelas, takes great pride in the authenticity of her traditional Mexican cuisine, in which pozole is one of the stars. The food cart takes its name from the “soldaderas,” women who played a critical role in the conflict of the Mexican Revolution as commanding officers,  combatants and camp followers. Dora is a “mujere brava,” a brave woman who does not shy away from fighting the good fight as an active member of the Latino community, entrepreneur, and a mother and educator of two daughters.

Recipes found on the Las Adelas menu have passed from generation to generation: pozoles, birrias, and guaraches offering a deeper view of traditional Mexican food for a market already familiar with the stereotypical tacos and burritos and curious about more.

She loves getting in the zone while doing the prep work, recreating the flavors and foods of her youth gives her a sense of home. She tries to share that same feeling with  her costumers as she chats about the plate’s history and how and when it is  served. More than a food cart, Las Adelas is about preserving her family’s cultural legacy as a vehicle of cultural ambassadorship.

Dora Reyna was born in San Luís de Potosí in Central Mexico where she also earned a college degree in accounting from Universidad Autónoma de San Luis de Potosi. She came to the United States in 2002 and worked as an office manager at a non-profit where she met her husband Francisco Aguirre in 2003. They married in 2008, and in 2009 she had their first of two daughters. Dora took a pause to stay home to raise her children for the next five years.

As the girls grew up, Dora’s entrepreneurial spirit resurfaced, inspired by her grandmother who defied all standards of her time by moving to the city and opening her own food business in which the whole family participated. It became a lesson in the value of hard work, ethics, faith and perseverance, as she raised and sent to school Dora’s mother and siblings.

Dora had always wanted to start her own business. She had been following the then-new Portland Mercado, worked with Micro Mercantes business development, and used her experience as an accountant and the help of her husband on branding and marketing to put forward her idea. She recalls the day she got the acceptance call as one of her happiest. She opened shop in 2016.

While her primary objective is to solidify her still-young business, Dora places great importance on increasing her exposure to gain more catering opportunities around the Portland metro area. At Portland Mercado she has found a tight community of diverse but like-minded business owners who have all contributed to create an authentic ethnic food hive, a formula that has grown in popularity and become a staple in Portland’s Latino food culture. 

Storyteller: Diego Diaz | Photos: Diego Diaz | Published: December 2017 | 503-953-7060