By Malcolm Bedell
Over the last two years, Portland’s Mexican restaurant scene has undergone a fairly massive transformation. In just 24 months, it’s as though the city collectively moved past the grim, cynical depictions of South of the Border fare, past the bottomless bowls of melted queso, and beyond fishbowl-sized frozen margaritas. All at once, Portland diners were craving either more authentic fare, or versions of Mexican classics that were more inventive. Owners Tod Dana and Alex Fisher have always been among the first to respond to changing attitudes about Mexican food, first with El Rayo Taqueria, the converted gas station on an underused hillside in the West End that endeavors to deliver taqueria classics, and now with the new Cantina El Rayo, opened right next door.