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Portland shines with north of the border cuisine



Think of places that feature delicious Mexican cuisine and Portland, Maine, is usually not the first location that comes to mind. As the northern most state, Maine is better known for its lobster and seafood, along with desserts such as blueberry pie.  However, as Maine's most cosmopolitan metropolis, Portland offers some surprising, delightful takes on Mexican dishes. From the upscale offerings of Zapoteca to the creative burrito magic of Bruce's Burritos to the California-inspired menu of Los Coco Tacos, Portland and the adjoining southern Maine coast offer variety and new taste sensations when it comes to Mexican classics. Call it Yankee ingenuity but Portland should be given careful consideration when it comes to sampling the best of this spicy, satisfying ethnic food. 


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Pedros Mexican Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Pedros Mexican Restaurant


Pedros Mexican Restaurant¬'s claim to fame is its gourmet accents infused into classic Mexican cuisine. This eatery appeals to those seeking something slightly different ¬‚Äď and always tasty ¬‚Äď in their south of the border dishes. The restaurant¬'s atmosphere is cozy and decidedly upscale ¬‚Äď a nice place to both bring a date or for a relaxed family meal. Menu highlights include Fish Tacos with crisp veggie slaw, avocado and tequila-lime crema; Carnitas Burritos featuring chipotle braised pork; Chicken Enchiladas Verde o Roja with chicken tinga, salsa fresco, queso fresco, rice and refried beans; and Vegetariano Burritos featuring sweet roasted corn, rice, pinto beans, cheddar cheese, salsa, guacamole, and chipotle crema. This eatery also offers a wide selection of margaritas, both frozen and salted, as well as tequilas and sangrias.

Local Expert tip: Pedros is family friendly dining at its best.

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Loco Coco Tacos
Photo courtesy of Loco Coco Tacos


Loco Coco Tacos in Kittery has earned a well-deserved reputation for its welcome, refreshing California inspiration on Mexican cuisine. Fans of Mexican cuisine seeking something just out of the ordinary frequently choose this local eatery for their dining pleasure. Those who come here will be impressed by this restaurant¬'s emphasis on fresh, local ingredients which add up to a distinctive, tantalizing array of dishes that are both healthy and sure to please. For example, lard is absent from their refried beans while locally grown cilantro is a mainstay of their diverse menu selections. Affordability is also a key ¬‚Äď a typical, well portioned meal for two can be had for less than $30. Menu highlights include the Tia Margarita Fish Burrito with crisp, beer-battered boneless fish, avocado sauce, fresh salsa and shredded cabbage; Enchiladas Con Mole consisting of three corn tortillas rolled with chicken, beef or cheese topped with a spicy Mexican chocolate sauce, fresh salsa, dry ricotta cheese and sour cream; and the Chicken Burrito with marinated, char-grilled chicken. A gluten-free menu is also featured.

Local Expert tip: Loco Coco Tacos has a nice selection of lunch specials.

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Tortilla Flat
Photo courtesy of Tortilla Flat


Tortilla Flat is a neighborhood eatery that offers traditional Mexican fare. Nothing fancy here, just honest Mexican and Mexican-influenced dishes that are tasty and satisfy. The atmosphere is laid back and friendly. The staff are pleasant and quick to fulfill orders. Among the menu highlights here are the Fiesta Grande Platter featured marinated beef and chicken skewers grilled with jalapeno butter, beef and pork mini-chimi changas, spicy chicken wings, guacamole, and cilantro dipping sauces. The Camarones Asado is another stand out with marinated shrimp and vegetables on a skewer that is served on a bed of rice. This restaurant also features highly acclaimed chili in several appealing varieties as well as soups that include Gazpacho (cold vegetable soup) when in-season.

Local Expert tip: Tortilla Flat's chili offerings are some of the best in Portland.

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Amigo's Mexican Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Amigo's Mexican Restaurant


Amigo¬'s Mexican Restaurant is an intimate, unassuming eatery located along the quaint, cobblestones of Dana Street in Portland. The menu is basic Mexican featuring all of the usual dishes ¬‚Äď burritos, tostadas, tacos, etc. However, each dish is full of fresh spicy flavor and features generous portions. Of special note are Amigo¬'s Habanero entrees. This variation on the familiar fajita, which features grilled meats and vegetables added to soft flour burritos at the diner¬'s discretion, is kicked up a notch with the addition of fresh, hot habanero pepper. Also contained in this dish is tri-colored peppers, garlic, tomato, fresh fruit salsa, rice, beans, and fresh cilantro along with your choice of meats. Another menu stand out is the Chicken and Scallion Taco Salad with sauteed chicken breast in a light tomato sauce that is served in an edible bowl and topped with lettuce, tomato and cheese. Amigo¬'s also serves up several vegetarian variations on their menu, as well.

Local Expert tip: Amigo's is famous for its generous portions.

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Bruce's Burritos
Photo courtesy of Bruce's Burritos


Located in scenic Yarmouth, less than 20 minutes north of Portland, Bruce's Burritos has rightfully gained a distinctive reputation for creative, funky twists on traditional Mexican cuisine. Diners seeking something new in south of the border offerings should definitely place Bruce's Burrito's high on their list. Among the most tantalizing menu highlights include their Salsa Blueberry Burrito featuring chili, chorizo sausage, kidney beans, tofu, cilantro and lime. Other menu favorites include Bruce's sweet potato burrito with blueberry salsa; pineapple salsa chili with beef and tofu; their chicken burrito with guacamole, corn salsa, and sweet chili sauce; and chorizo sausage burrito with guacamole and yellow pepper jalapeno sauce.

Local Expert tip: Bruce's Burritos offers a nice, creative twist on Mexican burrito cuisine.

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On The Border Mexican Grill and Cantina
Photo courtesy of On The Border Mexican Grill and Cantina


On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina in South Portland is part of a national chain that does an admirable job of serving up fresh, quality Mexican cuisine. This eatery prides itself on craft touches including homemade guacamole, hand-pressed tortillas, and mesquite wood-grilled meats. Their focus pays off in entrees and appetizers that are delicious and satisfying. Menu standouts include hand-rolled enchiladas, an extensive fajita grill, and stuffed tacos. The lounge section of this restaurant continues to earn high marks with such concoctions as peach frozen margaritas a crowd pleasing favorite during the summer season. Prices are surprisingly moderate and portions are generous. Families will also find themselves very comfortable in this setting.

Local Expert tip: This eatery is especially good for family dining.

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