Time: 5:30pm, Friday June 29th, 2009
Where: 101 York Street, Portland, Maine
On Friday night The Hub and Jess had a night out on the town, so Sabrina and I decided to go out, too. What’s good for the gander is good for the gander, you know. The Hub isn’t a big fan of Mexican, but Sabs and I love it, so we very quickly decided to try the new place in town, El Rayo Taqueria.
Funny story – a few weeks ago Sabs, Hubby and I were out late and decided to grab a bite to eat on Sunday night. You know what? Nothing is open in Maine after 10pm on a Sunday night but Dennys. Goodbye, city life! Anyway – we were driving around and we noticed El Rayo for the first time then. Except in the dark I thought it said El Rato. I am glad I was mistaken.
There was just enough parking for us to squeeze into a slot – not that there is (or will eventually be) too little, but in our city of foodies any new restaurant is mobbed.
The place itself is very, very enchanting. Bright south-of-the-border inspired colors abound. Each wall is painted a different color, with a large print design on the back wall. The kitchen is open to the eating area, but is not obtrusive. There are about 12 small high tables in the restaurant itself. The floor is a strange rubbery substance – you cannot slide yourself up to the table on your stool without considerable effort. There were 5 or 6 picnic tables set up outside, which were full on this first sunny night in a while. All in all, cute.
When you get there you stand in line to order, and then grab a seat and wait for the delivery of your food. It takes very little time for the food to arrive, even on a busy night.
Sabrina ordered Fresh Fruit dusted with Chile Powder, Salt, and Lime and two tacos – the Carne Asada (steak) and the Pescado (fish). The fruit (and veg) were in a small cup, cut into chunks and sticks and liberally dusted with the aforementioned concoction. I tried the cucumber. I have to say, the mixture definitely brought out the sweetness and juiciness of the veg. It was a little spicy for my taste, but I am a wuss, and Sabrina loved it. The tacos were both excellent – very fresh and they looked incredibly appetizing.
I ordered the Cheese Nachos (to share), and a Chicken and Salsa Verde Chilaquiles. The nachos were excellent – enough cheese to cover all the chips, and the chips themselves were homemade (I think. If not, kudos!). I also put some of the house mild salsa on them – it is a smoky, cool sauce that made me love salsa again. In fact, I ended up putting it on everything that I ate. The Chilaquiles is a kind of a casserole made with tortilla, chicken, white sauce, creme-fresh and spinach (I think. There was something yummy and green in it). It was something I had never had, or even heard of. Gladly, it was excellent.
We decided that this was our new favorite Mexican eatery. It has a charming neighborhood feel, but a little hipstery. Not bad hipster, good hipster. The food though – the food is amazing. Very fresh, very healthy, very tasty, very different. We loved it.
5 out of 5 stars.