This won’t come as a surprise to any of you, but — Yelp lied to me about Teote.

I followed a google search for “Portland restaurants with air conditioning,” and clicked through a couple of pages of results. There it was.

The southeast 12th/Hawthorne area Teote was a convenient location for our evening activities. We’d been meaning to try it. It’s casual enough that a toddler with a poor sleep schedule of late would potentially be okay, and rushed out quickly if needed.

So we walked in and… no air conditioning. I started to feel the sweat on my back.


My husband, who’d poked his head around, mentioned that the upstairs seemed like it was maybe a bit cooler. “Really? Upstairs?” That seemed a bit unlikely, given the laws of thermodynamics.

We ordered at the counter, and I asked where if there was a cool place to eat. “We have some AC going upstairs. And the back patio is nice and breezy.” Okay, you’re off the hook THIS TIME, Yelp. Upstairs, there was “some” AC, open windows, and a lovely breeze coming through the doors to the patio. It wasn’t movie theater cold, but it was comfortable. Still, I was glad to have the cucumber-mint-lime aqua fresca to help cool off a bit.

aqua fresca

Teote specializes in Venezuelan corn cakes called arepas. I’m no expert, but from what I understand, arepas are a bit like pupusas or gorditas, but they’re made with a  corn flour called masarepa (as opposed to masa harina) that’s cooked and re-dried before forming into the cakes cooked on a griddle. Arepas are normally split in half and thought of as Venezuelan bread, ready for all sorts of delicious fillings. The outside gets crispy, while the interior is soft and creamy.

At Teote, you can get a topped arepa/sandwich, a bowl, or a combination plate. There’s one vegetarian or vegan option in each category that features black beans, with the possibility of veganizing by leaving off queso fresco.

“Oh great,” you’re thinking right now. “A bean and rice bowl. I mean, that’s nice that the beans are vegetarian, but … yawnsville.”

I know! Bean and rice bowls can be boring, and sadly often bland. But this vegan bowl was something to blog about.

vegan bowl

First of all, there was a lot more to it than the beans and rice. There were beans and rice at the bottom, sure, but with lots of perfectly caramelized fried plantains, crisp cabbage slaw, guacamole, cilantro, fresh pops of diced beets, and two different kinds of sauces. I added a bit of the green, less-hot salsa from time to time as well, just for a touch of heat, but the bowl itself didn’t lack for flavor. A+ variation on textures as well.

Bowls don’t normally come with an arepa, but we ordered an extra one just in case the toddler felt more adventurous than he has been recently.

My husband got the vegetarian combination plate, which was basically the same thing, only his included an arepa and salad with queso fresco, but lacked guacamole. I shared my guac. Tips for a successful marriage right there.

combo plate

The restaurant itself is lovely, especially the back patio. When we arrived at 6pm, the joint seemed overstaffed. There were almost as many employees as diners. When we left about an hour later, the line to order food stretched almost to the front door. There was still plenty of seating, so don’t worry, those of you who, like me, get Seat Anxiety. The downstairs area was loud enough that I had to ask the person taking my order to repeat his questions. Upstairs, the 80’s pop hits were obvious, but not blaring.

Two entrees and a non-alcoholic drink came to $24.75 before tip for a lot of food. We didn’t need the extra arepa we ordered with the bowl, since a certain toddler only ate two bites of it. I couldn’t even finish my bowl. That’s a very unusual situation for me.

Arepas are naturally gluten-free. The owner notes that they do their best to stay gluten-free, but there are supplier issues that may be beyond their control. You gotta say that, right?

Since our first visit, I’ve had several girls’ nights at both locations of Teote, with a celiac buddy who loves it. I can now recommend the margaritas on the rocks as well. My girls recommend the frozen slushy cocktails for summer.

Have you been to Teote? Enjoyed that back patio bar? Tell us all about it in the comments!