Here’s one way to get my attention: Offer me a $3 taco.
El Sobo’s Tacos in South Berwick has become a recent mainstay because it’s quick, affordable and tasty. The first few visits, I did what I normally do when I get to know a new Mexican restaurant: I order a chicken burrito or chicken chimichanga. If I find either appealing, I venture out from there.
Sometime over the winter, I was driving by El Sobo’s and was beckoned by a sign advertising $3 tacos. I stopped. I ate. I enjoyed. I have returned several times and traded my loyalty to the burrito for these wonderful, imaginative tacos.
At El Sobo’s, you build your own taco from a menu of ingredient choices. I asked for a braised rib taco with roasted corn and mango barbecue sauce, as well as a blackened haddock taco with mango salsa and chipotle mayo.
My dining companion and I also split a bowl of Tuscan beef chili ($5).
I enjoyed nearly everything. The chili was temperature hot and mildly spicy. The seasoned beef, which the chef coyly declined to describe in any detail – I suspect the seasoning came from a bottle and not from his mind – was soft and succulent. The chili was thick, topped with large dollops of sour cream and melted cheese. It had a decent kick but wasn’t eye-watering. We told the waiter we’d be sharing the chili and appreciated that it was served in two bowls, each with three tortilla chips for dipping.
But those chips reminded us that we did not receive chips and salsa when we sat down, which had been past custom.
I loved my braised rib taco but cared less for the haddock. The rib was soft and tangy, and the roasted corn and mango barbecue sauce were perfect complements. The haddock just didn’t taste good. I found it bland. I hoped the chipotle mayo would enlighten the fish, but it did not.
After a magnificent bowl of chili and a dream-like first taco, a so-so second taco was a minor complaint about an otherwise fine meal.
WHERE: 12 Portland St., South Berwick; 207704-0532 or elsobostacos.com
HOURS: Lunch: noon to 4 p.m., dinner: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. (or close), Tuesday to Saturday
WAIT: 10 minutes
PARKING: On street
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes
OUTDOOR SEATING: Yes