Who would have thought that it would be too hot to eat on the outside deck at El Rayo Taqueria in October? Although it was hot, that didn’t dampen our excitement at trying out their new Free Street location in Portland.
I had been to their previous Portland location as well as their one in Scarborough so I knew already that their food is delicious, and I was looking forward to having them back in Portland again. As soon as we walked into the restaurant, we were greeted with warm, festive colors and a casual atmosphere. The front has an order area for takeout behind which is a long wooden bar that draws you towards the back where there is a counter for dine in patrons to order. The space is narrow, but welcoming.
It took us a minute or so to get our bearings, but once we understood the setup, it was straight forward enough. We grabbed the blue paper to-go menus stacked by the register and flipped through the food selections. I quickly zoned in on their quesadilla section ordering one with chicken. My daughter was a little more overwhelmed with the menu but ultimately settled on a steak burrito. We grabbed a seltzer and moxie from the antique style coke coolers that were towards the front, and then paid for our order. We were given a buzzer to let us know when our food was up, and we headed to the deck.
The deck overlooks a parking lot which is not a great view, but the picnic style tables are brightened with yellow floral oil cloth style tablecloths. There are also banners and a day of the dead skull and crossbones flag. While there were no umbrellas to provide shade, I suspect this may be because of the lateness of the season and normally cool temps as the tables did have spaces to hold umbrellas. The deck has a decent amount of seating and, much like their old location, looks to be a great summer hangout spot.
Our buzzer started vibrating and blinking in blue lights so I headed back to the order counter and picked up my quesadilla. The burrito took a bit longer but nothing that threw off the meal. It was just a few more minutes. Once we had our food, it was time to enjoy. The chicken in my quesadilla was moist, and slathered in gooey cheese. The crust was perfectly browned, and crisp.
I was happy with my food, but a little too hot to stay outside, as mentioned previously, so we moved our lunch inside where there are some additional tables towards the back of the restaurant. My daughter enjoyed her burrito too. It was a generous portion so half of it went home with us. The chips were a little dry for my taste, but my daughter devoured those with salsa and a sprinkle of salt.
Fortunately, we made it to lunch just before closing time. They are only open from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm for breakfast and lunch, although by the time this blog posts I believe they will have extended into evening hours as well.
I’m glad they’re back in Portland and that they will be opening for dinner soon. I see a night sometime in the near future spent enjoying appetizers and cocktails at their welcoming bar. I love a festive space.
|things to know|
|Restaurant||El Rayo Taqueria|
|Address||26 Free St, Portland, ME 04101|
|Website||El Rayo Taqueria|