At Taqueria Los Gorditos, on Southeast Division Street in Portland, Ore., you'll find an odd item wedged between the menu's meaty tortas and tamales--soy curls. Not the most appetizing of names, nor something you'd generally associate with Mexican food, the soy curls at Los Gorditos, nonetheless, will make a believer out of the most devout carnivore. The texture--slightly wispy with a toothsome bounce--is the best vegetarian chicken alternative I've ever encountered.
Made from "delicately textured select, non-GMO, whole soybeans" and nothing else, Soy Curls are produced by Butler Foods, a family owned business based out of Grand Ronde, Ore. The curls come dry and have to be rehydrated before you can cook with them, but unlike texturized vegetable protein (TVP) products, Soy Curls don't have a funky taste or spongy texture. Ideal in tacos or veggie enchiladas, Soy Curls also make a super rad salad topping.
You can order Soy Curls directly from the Butler Foods website--where six 8-ounce bags go for $19.95 plus $8 shipping--or you can, strangely, find them locally at the Adventist Book Center (7777 W. Fairview Ave.), where they go for $4.99 for an 8-ounce bag.