2013-03-01 / Business Review

Made from scratch Mexican cuisine is what you’ll find at Taco Trio

Manny Peña opened Taco Trio in South Portland less than two years ago, but his restaurant is already a staple in the Knightville community. This summer, when construction crews were tearing up Ocean Street to create more pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, Peñasaid his business still grew.

The South Portland residents braved the orange cones and blocks of asphalt to enjoy their carnitas, carne asada, pollo con mole and other traditional Mexican favorites.

“The majority of our menu is traditional meals and everything we serve is made from scratch” Peña said. “This is what I ate when I was growing up in Mexico.”

Peña grew up in Guanajuato, Mexico , where his mother taught him how to cook as a child. He worked in restaurants around the U.S. before landing in South Portland in 2011. He is joined in the kitchen by cook Laura, whose mole recipe has been passed down in her family for generations. Laura doesn’t have a recipe written down for that mole. She goes by feel, memory, and, as with any good cook, taste!

Taco Trio is no longer a secret in South Portland, and Peña said word is starting to catch on around the rest of the Portland area as well.

“Almost every day I see new faces, people here for the first time,” Peña said, and they’re not all from South Portland. Frequently, customers will place an order on the phone, Peña will tell them that the food will be ready in 5 or 10 minutes, and the customer will respond, “Make it 20. I’m coming from Freeport.”

Peña said the restaurant has also been popular with transplants from Texas or the West Coast who have come to Maine. Those residents have told Peña one of the things they missed about their previous home was the traditional Mexican food. At Taco Trio, those residents told Peña they “finally found something.”

Taco Trio visitors can always rely on traditional favorites for lunch and dinner, including chorizo, carne asada, pollo asado, and carnitas tacos, quesadillas, burritos with a horchata or other aqua frescas to wash it down.

Peña also offers daily specials. On a recent February morning, he’s chopping up mangos, chipotle peppers, onions and cilantro for mango salsa. This spring, he will offer shrimp tacos from local Casco Bay fishermen, lightly buttered with deep fried avocado, chipotle mayo, lime, and a little lettuce for crunch. For more information and to see the full menu, visit www.taco-trio.com, call 767- 9055, or stop in at 119 Ocean St. in South Portland.

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