Happy hour, TV, great service and awesome Mexican food make for a lively scene at this Falmouth eatery.
The scene at Bueno Loco on a recent weeknight was unexpected. From the outside, this Mayan-Mexican eatery looks to be another chain restaurant in the middle of a shopping center – Walmart and fast-food restaurants do tend to dominate this busy section of Route 1 in Falmouth.
But Bueno Loco isn’t a chain. The first restaurant of owner Sharon Stark, Bueno Loco has slaked the craving for Mexican food in Falmouth after many years, and on most nights the bar is nearly full. While the crowd consists of local residents stopping in after work for happy hour ($5 house margaritas, $4 glasses of wine, $3 draft beers), Stark says her clientele is a good mix of people from Greater Portland and beyond. She has regulars from Scarborough and Biddeford.
The restaurant is very roomy, with high ceilings and a long, open kitchen that extends from one end to the other. While the colors are vivid and festive, they do little to brighten up the space, unfortunately. The décor is uniform, clean and there’s a good amount of effort – note the fresh tulips in vases at each place setting – to make Bueno Loco seem less like a cafeteria and more like a sophisticated restaurant.
Stark, who has a background in hotel management and hospitality, knew that when she opened Bueno Loco in early 2013, she’d want to retain the clientele that frequented the Stonyfield Café and O’Naturals – the two prior businesses at Bueno Loco’s current location. The Stonyfield Café closed in 2012 after over a decade in business, and served many vegan and vegetarian options.
There isn’t a separate bar menu, but cheap eats that pair well with any of their seven house-made margaritas (all $8 or $8.50), include chips and salsa for $4 (five salsa options), a half order of nachos for $8 (full is $11), or three sliders (burger, pulled pork, fish sandwich) for $9.
Other drinks include a house sangria, mojito and blood orange gin fizz. All cocktails are $9 and under. There are five beers on tap for $6 and under; 17 beers by the bottle, including Dos Equis, Modelo, Sol and Tecate; and a quick list of reds, whites and bubbles.
Bueno Loco sources as much as they can from local farms and aims to have plenty to offer for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free customers. The dining room is especially family-friendly and the bar is a particularly good spot to have a casual meal or watch a game on one of the two TVs. A welcome addition to Falmouth, Bueno Loco might be here to stay – for good.
WHERE: 240 Route 1, Falmouth
HOURS: Sunday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
SPECIALS: Happy hour Monday-Friday, 4-6 p.m. $5 house margarita, $4 glass of wine, $3 draft beer, daily food specials.
AMENITIES: Plenty of seating either at bar or tall tables along window, outdoor seating,
PARKING: Parking lot in shopping center.
BOTTOM LINE: Bueno Loco is the only place in Falmouth where you can get quality Mexican food and a good margarita. The place is huge, with a 110-person capacity, and the crowd at the bar is friendly and fun. Eddy the bartender is super quick, enthusiastic and all about customer service. Owner Sharon Stark wanted to provide Falmouth residents with a Mexican restaurant they can rely on and in doing so, has established a place that people from all over Greater Portland come to for authentic Mayan-inspired Mexican cuisine.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes