On a nondescript corner in South Portland, in a building that was once maybe a laundromat or a greasy spoon diner is just the kind of place you wish would come to your town. It’s authentic Mexican and a quirky taqueria that despite its mismatched furniture and unfavorable lighting, the cheap and delicious food makes you blind to any decorating blunder.
For fans of Taco Trio, the almost-four-year-old taco shop has become a weekly dine-in/take-out favorite. Friday and Saturday nights prove to be popular as lines stretch from the register (you pay first for food and drink) to the front door. Weeknights cater to a steady stream of parents towing young kids after soccer practice, highschoolers and twenty-somethings.
The bar, if you can call it that – a two-seater counter in front of five tap handles and a brimming beer fridge in plain view – is squeezed between the register and the self-serve salsa bar. If you’re intending to sit like a normal bar-drinking/eating citizen, expect to feel like you’re in the way.
On a recent night, two red poinsettias took up most of the counter space and customers crowded around the designated bar area waiting for their turn to fill up plastic cups of salsa and sour cream. Though small and cramped, the bar, with its retro orange diner stools, is a nice touch to Taco Trio’s otherwise run-of-the-mill seating. There’s additional counter spots on the other side of the room for those looking for more bar-like seating.
Taco Trio’s drink selection is larger than you’d think. The aforementioned beer fridge is stocked with mostly Mexican beers like Modelo, Corona, Dos Equis and Tecate, but includes some local brews like Peak Organic. Bottled beers are listed on the menu as $3.80.
The beers on tap ($4.25) included some Mexican beer, Harpoon IPA and Brooklyn Lager, and then a mysterious tap that no one working at Taco Trio that night seemed to know about. The menu says that tap wine is available for $5 but what dispensed from the unknown tap was pear cider.
Two cocktails, the house margarita and mojito, are both offered for $5.85 and are served strong and icy with fresh lime in plastic cups. The 16-ounce agua frescas (Mexican fruit and nut drinks) are also available for $2.75 ($1.25 refill).
Taco Trio may not be the type of place to go just for drinks, but why would you want to? The tacos are cheap and good (3 for $10) and a basket of their homemade chips and salsa ($2.75) can’t be beat.
WHERE: 119 Ocean St., South Portland
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday
AMENITIES: Counter seating & table seating and two seats at the bar, self-serve salsa fixin’s bar, floor heater in women’s bathroom.
PARKING: On street
BOTTOM LINE: Taco Trio is an authentic Mexican taqueria in South Portland that caters to families, teenagers, twenty-somethings and beyond. You’ll likely get a mixed crowd on any given night – be prepared for a line and a wait on weekend nights. There’s a solid beer selection, a few drafts, and two house cocktails (margarita and mojito). While not a bar scene in the traditional sense, it’s a good place to go to drink and eat cheaply.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes