Before I moved to Portland, Ore. from California in 2010, my sister moved there in 2007. By the time I had moved there, I had visited her so often that I already had favorite restaurants, one of which was ¿Por Qué No? Upon her insistence, the first time I ate at ¿Por Qué No? I tried Bryan’s Bowl. It’s a bowl made of beans and rice with some cheese, cilantro, salsa and cream, topped with your choice of meat or veggies and corn tortillas or tortilla chips. I always got the fried fish option with tortillas.
The only real big drawback of ¿Por Qué No? is the food is so good it draws in huge crowds and the seating situation can trigger social anxiety in even the calmest of persons. If you take a seat before ordering your food you’ll be tsk-tsk’d by an employee or even a customer. I know from experience. Now this wouldn’t be such a big deal if there were plenty of open seats. Which there never nearly were. Not even in off peak hours. There were times when we would basically have to stalk patrons to be able to nab a seat before our food came out.
I no longer live in Portland and no longer have to deal with the social anxiety-provoking ordering process of ¿Por Qué No? On the downside, I can’t have Bryan’s Bowl whenever I want.
With Sis in town we have been eating a lot lighter vegetarian and vegan fair. Sis considers herself mostly vegan. And it’s been super hot for SoCal which doesn’t really inspire us to cook. We’ve been eating hummus with pita and veggies, muesli, salad with focaccia, healthy blueberry crumble and today we decided to recreate Bryan’s Bowl without the fried fish. Which incidentally is labeled Beans & Rice Bowl on the ¿Por Qué No? menu.
This bowl comes together fairly quickly, especially if you use canned beans. Which I don’t. When I eat beans, my go-to method is cooking with dried beans. It takes longer because you need to allow the beans to soak and absorb the water and then you have to cook them for an hour or two until they are ready to eat. Eating beans that are made from scratch are, in my opinion, far superior than eating canned beans. But don’t feel bad if you don’t have the time or patience to make your own beans. Just pop open a can and heat up those beans.
The second most laborious part of making this dish is the rice. The Bryan’s Bowl or Beans & Rice Bowl sold at Por Que No are made with brown rice, which I highly recommend. Brown rice can take upward of 45 minutes to make. But other than that, all you have to do is gather some cilantro, salsa, cheese and cream (or sour cream) and literally throw everything into a bowl (once the beans and rice are done). Serve with tortilla chips to scoop up your mixture or drop a few spoonfuls onto warm corn tortillas and feast your heart out.
Both Sis and I agreed this bowl might even have been better than Por Que No’s!
- cooked brown rice
- cooked pinto beans (use black or other types of beans if you prefer)
- crema or sour cream
- Mexican cheese (we used Chihuaha but the original bowl comes with Queso Fresco)
- optional: guacamole or diced avocado, diced tomato, corn kernels, sliced jalapeno, your favorite shredded or crumbled meat or chunks of tofu.
- In a large bowl, layer rice and beans. Top with Mexican cheese, crema or sour cream and cilantro. Add optional toppings. Serve with salsa on the side or pour it right on top.
- Eat immediately. (I like to mix everything together!)