Tag Archives: portland maine

Taco Trio—Some Flavors Delight, While Some Still Aren’t Right

13 Mar

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).

Mr. Marlowe.

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.

Fish Tacos

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.

Carnita Sope

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.

Taco Trio on Urbanspoon

Green Elephant—Turning Carnivores to Herbivores, if only for the Night

26 Aug

Last week I went to dinner with my new friend Shelly. Shelly just moved to Portland from the New Orleans area, and even though she’s a Saints fan, I’ve decided that all her other amazing qualities outweigh this one negative (Go Steelers!). She’s quickly hopping on the foodie bandwagon and when I suggested we meet at Green Elephant she exclaimed, “I love that place I have been dying to go back.” This coming from a gal who’s been here all of a month. She stole my heart there on the spot.

So we met at Green Elephant on a Tuesday, and it was surprisingly busy. I hadn’t been there in a while and there were some new offerings on the menu that I was excited to try. We started the evening some wine—Pinot Grigio for me, Pinot Noir for her. Shelly is a big wine connoisseur, which I have to admit was slightly intimidating. I am a beer girl and I can tell you all about beers around the world, but when it comes to wine I am as into a glass of two buck chuck from Trader Joe’s as I am into a bottle of Opus One. I know the kinds I like, but it pretty much stops there. I can tell that I can learn a lot from this little Southern Belle about being a wino.

I am neither vegan nor vegetarian, but that doesn’t matter. I think even the most carnivorous person in America could leave here feeling satisfied. The food is flavorful, and the tofu is very filling. After the wine ordering we sprung for some Green Leaves Wraps with Mango and Herbs. The “wrap” part is actually collard greens (how could two girls from the south resist?) and were uncooked (huh? Neither of us has experienced uncooked collards before). This appetizer was absolutely delicious and filled with cilantro and fresh julienned carrots. The tamarind sauce was not overly flavorful, but was necessary to wet the veggies, otherwise it was far too dry. Overall, this appetizer seemed lacking. I felt like I could make this at home, and while eating it I questioned if it would have been better wrapped in lettuce instead of collard greens…

Collard Green Wraps

Shelly opted for the Hot and Sour Noodle soup for her main course. It comes with rice noodles, bean sprouts, tofu, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, scallions, and cilantro all with fried wantons on top. Genius. She asked for it moderately spicy and I could tell from her cough after the first few bites that the heat was on! She said she really enjoyed it though.

Hot and Sour Noodle Soup

I ordered the Char Guay Teow, which had the pronunciation printed on the menu and I still didn’t get it right. I’ll really have to brush up on my phonetic spelling/pronunciation skills before I go next time. It comes with wide rice noodles, egg (I didn’t go vegan), bean sprouts, scallion, red chili paste, tofu and this amazing soy ham. Seriously it was delicious, you could fool anyone! It was then topped off with shredded lettuce and cilantro. Overall it was a great dish and I find myself craving it now, which is what it’s all about for me—finding the next great obsession.

Char Guay Teow

Each time I dine at Green Elephant I find even more reasons to return. Their food is inventive and packed with flavor, the prices are reasonable, and the ambiance is great. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone—from carnivore extraordinaire to vegan lettuce lovers there really is something for every appetite.

Green Elephant on Urbanspoon

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