Friday night found Mark and I debating on where to eat since we were unable to secure a reservation at essentially any restaurant in town due to the overwhelming popularity of Restaurant Week. I would first like to say that I think Restaurant Week is both a saint and a devil. I think it lures people who wouldn’t normally eat at higher priced establishments (and they probably won’t be back without a gift card or until next year for Restaurant Week), and I think it kind of limits those of us who, umm, just don’t want to eat stuff we don’t really want from your prix-fixed menu that you try to force down our throats. So, that’s my diatribe for the week. Other than that I think it’s great that people get out and about to enjoy the food scene in Portland that I love so damn much.
Mark and I have been traveling fools lately and have actually only been home one weekend out of the past four. We are on total lock-down now though since we are puppy sitting a one, Mr. Marlowe, for our dear friends, Jay and Suzanne, who are in Brazil for three weeks visiting her family (you might remember them from this post).
So, we decided it would be a tacos and ice cream kind of Friday, which I, of course, LOVE. Mark is somewhat limited on his choices for food on Friday’s since it’s Lent and that means it is the one time of year when he deems it important to be a good Catholic. I gave that farce up years ago when I decided that God was, well, nevermind…this is about tacos, glorious tacos. Carnivorous ones for me, and fish ones for the nice Catholic fellow I married.
I wasn’t even sure Taco Trio in South Portland was even open when we pulled the car up in front of the restaurant. I was expecting a scene of epic pandemonium—lines out the front door, people everywhere, loud music, etc. etc. etc.—since it was prime dinner time on a Friday. I was actually thankful that it wasn’t the case though since I was starving.
I guess this is the part where I should tell you that Mark and I have been to Taco Trio before, within the first week or two that it was open. The experience was so inexplicably horrible (I won’t go into the gritty details so as not to taint this review) that I never even wrote it up because I wanted to give them another chance. It’s taken me (well us) about 7 months to get up the courage to go back.
The place is very modest inside. The kitchen is exposed so you can watch them prepare all the food in front of you, which I love. Orders are taken at the counter and presented there as well when they are ready. The salsa and drink bar is off to the right and there are tables on either side of the door, with a bar that runs along the wall on the left side. Questionable R&B music played loudly over the speakers, but I digress.
Mark had already decided before we got there to order the Trio of Fish Tacos with Lime Crema and Shredded Cabbage on top. This came with one side of salsa from their homemade salsa bar and fresh homemade tortilla chips.
I went with a Carnita Sope, which I was so excited about since I have never had a Sopes, but a fellow food writer, Dan Zarin (of Bollard Breakfast Cereal Fame), said are just plain amazing and that he has been looking for them ever since leaving Los Angeles. My meal also came with tortilla chips and a side of salsa. We also got a side of sour cream, because, well, I love that stuff and could eat it with a spoon! I can’t have anything Mexican without a heaping side of cream. Sue me.
I would first like to say that I really loved my Carnita Sope. The pork was so tender it just pulled right apart with a fork and then melted in my mouth. The pinto beans were excellent and everything had very delicate flavoring that really allowed you to taste the corn “bowl” that it sat on top of. It was heavenly and I would totally go back for these. Delicious.
Mark didn’t try them since he was being a “good Catholic” so he really missed out, because his fish tacos were horrendous. The fish was not fresh and the breading was soggy, not crispy in the least. Everything about the tacos tasted old, except for the lime crema—it was the best part about his “dinner.” The breading even had this weird musty taste…I felt bad for the poor guy, he was just so hungry that he had no choice but to eat two…and I am still unsure how he managed to choke them down. Sigh.
I’m really tempted to give this place another try because the first time Mark loved the Carne Asada Burrito he ordered, and this time I really liked my Sopes. I am hesitant though because we typically like to visit restaurants where we both like our meals. I would love to think this has just been a slew of bad ordering on our part, but now that we have tried something from four different sections of the menu I’m thinking they are doing a few things well (meat dishes minus the goat) and just going through the motions with the rest. The salsa bar is a fantastic though—over 12 different choices and all are very well crafted. Mark loved the Mango Salsa he had (I had the chipotle). Maybe we will go there again at some point and hope that the third time will be the charm…
So, on to Red’s Dairy we drove, a place that could never, try as it might, disappoint. Smiles ensued.