Friday, December 13, 2013
By EMMA BOUTHILLETTE
Almost two months ago, I was sitting with some friends at Nosh Kitchen Bar, indulging in a drink and some bacon-dusted french fries, when I noticed Taco Escobarr across the street.
Bartender Eric Kreidler delivers margaritas to Doug and DeeDee Norton of Scarborough at Taco Escobarr, 548 Congress St., Portland.
Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
One of the restaurant’s three-taco baskets.
WHERE: 548 Congress St., Portland
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday
PARKING: On street
SCENE: A small bar where you can grab a drink and a quick bite even on a budget with bright, lively decor
HAPPY HOUR: 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with $2.50 Miller High Life and Busch draft pints, $3.50 for select draft pints and $5 for 22-ounce bottles of Bud and Bud Lite
SPECIALS: Tacos are only $2 every Tuesday from 2 to 7 p.m.
AMENITIES: Jukebox and televisions behind the bar
It looked new, funky and fresh, and was rather busy late at night.
"Have you been there?" I asked my friends.
They hadn't, but suggested I add it to my list of places to write about for the Bar Guide. So last week, I finally got to stop in and see what the place had to offer.
Taco Escobarr, it turns out, is an establishment of Nosh. And as the bar recently defended itself on its Facebook page, the rumor that it was named to honor Pablo Escobar is untrue. They say there's no correlation between the bar and the druglord, and even note the slight difference in spelling.
Name aside, I was just excited to see that the bar offered a blood-orange margarita on its menu. Those of you who have heard my story about a recent trip to New York City know exactly how much I love blood-orange margaritas. And for $5.50? That's a pretty hard price to beat.
All the cocktails are reasonably priced. My friend, who met me after she got out of work, ordered the house margarita for $5. But if you happen to go with a fresh paycheck in your pocket, you may be inclined to splurge on the Pay Day, which features Patron Anejo, fresh lemon and lime juice, Grand Marnier and a dash of agave nectar, and comes garnished with an orange slice and Malden salt for $14.
Or maybe tequila does funny things to you and you'd prefer a different liquor. The bartenders are more than willing to make substitutions on their cocktail menu or concoct anything you'd like. Also, the bar always has six ever-changing beers on tap, a variety of bottles, and red and white house wines.
Taco Escobarr's space is somewhat small. There are a number of pub tables to sit at, but while my friend and I drank and ate, it felt to me like I was sitting on top of the other patrons. Sitting at the bar may have been the better choice, but it was pretty full when I arrived.
There's a large mural of a comic who seems to be the bar's mascot. He's featured on the menu and on the website. According to the menu, the design and art are by notable comic-book artist Mort Todd. It's pretty bright and in your face, which I don't necessarily mind, but some people may.
Because the tacos are even more of a steal than the margaritas, my friend and I both ordered one each and then shared some guacamole and chips. The food was served quickly, but without much fanfare. It was, however, tasty when paired with my drink.
All told, our bill came to $21 plus tax and tip. How many places can you go out in Portland and get drinks and dinner for two for that price?
Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.