To quote Jessica Tandy in the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes: “The secret’s in the sauce.” Although in this case, the secret’s in the salsa.

We lunched at the newly opened Taco Trio to see if its claim of “traditional Mexican food” passed muster, and it did so with flying colors. The menu contains the usual suspects of tacos, burritos and quesadillas, but the filling options set it apart.

We decided on a mess of tacos. The tacos are $3.50 each or any three for $9. They’re served with outstanding house-made tortilla chips and one choice of salsa. Extra salsas are $1 for each for 2-ounce container.

The filling options include carne asada (grilled marinated steak), maziza (stewed beef), pastor (pork sausage with potato), nopales (cooked cactus leaves), pescado (fish), pollo asado (grilled marinated chicken) and several others. Each taco is served on two soft corn shells. Between the two of us, we tried everything but the pork and fish. They were out of the nopales and offered fiddleheads as a substitute, but we weren’t feeling that.

Just as — or perhaps more — important as the taco fillings were the salsa options, and that’s where the all-important salsa bar comes in. The unadorned tacos weren’t particularly remarkable on their own, however, they were designed with salsa pairings in mind.

Once the carne asada taco, with its generous amount of meat, met with the molcajete, a medium-spicy salsa with roasted tomato and green chile, all was right with the world. The same could be said for the chicken taco paired with the salsa verde.


My dining partner reported that the stewed beef taco tasted like pot roast, and she especially appreciated the texture and richness. She also noted that it needed some kind of “bite” to it, and again, that’s where the salsa comes in. In this case, it was a blend of pico de gallo and chipotle, which added the freshness and bite she was looking for.

There are 11 salsa options from which to choose, and some experimenting may be necessary. I should also add that the guacamole ($2 for 2 ounces; $4 for 4 ounces) was sensational.

Also on the menu is something called “sopes,” which is a handmade “bowl” of fried corn dough with beans, queso cojita, sour cream and a choice of filling. These are $3.75 each or three for $10. I opted for one filled with chicken, and although I loved the texture of the sopes, it was more of a small, flat pancake than a bowl.

Next time — and there will indeed be a next time — I think I’ll try a burrito ($9), either the chicken or vegetarian one. Goat barbecue is another filling option, as is seared port and pork sausage. The quesadillas range from $6 to $9, and one of the choices is champinon and espinaca (spinach and mushroom).

I’ll also surely venture over to the Aqua Fresca machine, which dispenses luscious-looking traditional Mexican refreshers made with fresh fruit.

The features staff of The Portland Press Herald anonymously samples meals for about $7.


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