Lupita’s Tacos & Tequila opened in the middle of the summer in the Old Port spot formerly occupied by B. Good. Owner Bill Zolper, whose wife hails from Colombia, wanted a change of concept, so a taqueria was a logical choice.

Walking into Lupita’s, you’ll find a bright and cheery space with details like woven textiles on the backs of the comfortable metal chairs. It’s a fast-casual establishment with no regular table service, so you have two different ways to order. You can walk up to the counter and pay while admiring the tequila display (along with the layout of taco fillings and toppings), or you can order and pay on your phone without leaving your table. Either way, a server then brings your order to your table.

My friends and I settled in downstairs, but the primary seating area is upstairs, where the vibe is completely different. The lighting is darker, there are chairs shaped like hands, and the wall décor features lots of miniature skulls.

Given the inclusion of tequila in the name, we had expected more of a bar feel. I was excited when I saw on the website that Lupita’s carried 11 different tequilas, two of which were locally sourced, an option I didn’t know existed. Unfortunately, the staff had no idea what I was talking about. Even more disappointing, the tequilas were above two large vats of what appeared to be margarita mix. As a result, we found our drinks more sweet than sour.

The cocktail menu included a house margarita, Mama’s Margarita (made with top-shelf tequila), a Paloma flavored with blood orange instead of grapefruit, a twist on a Tequila Sunrise, a spicy margarita, a Michelada, and a Batanga (a Cuba Libré made with tequila instead of rum).

Lupita’s is located on Exchange Street in the Old Port, where B. Good used to be. Photo by Angie Bryan

Cocktail prices range from $10 to $15, but I was there during happy hour (3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday), so some drinks were cheaper. One of my friends ordered the Paloma for $7; the rest of us ended up with $10 Mama’s Margaritas. The drinks come in copper stainless cups, not in traditional margarita glasses, and all have a spiced rim unless you request otherwise. The copper stainless cups did a great job of keeping our drinks cold all evening, so I might be converted. Lupita’s also has a rotating craft beer selection.

We didn’t order dinner, but I tried the $5.50 Lupita’s Home Recipe taco (ground beef and pork with a house blend of mild spices, served with diced red onion and cilantro). My friends ordered tortilla chips and house-made salsa for $5. Portions were generous, and we really liked the items we ordered, especially the salsa. The entire menu is gluten-free.

There were definitely some glitches. One of my drinking companions used the order-via-phone system, but no one seemed to notice until she walked up to the counter and asked about her drink. Every time our server brought us a drink, she sloshed it over the table, seemingly never noticing. The Paloma was so watery that we couldn’t taste either the blood orange or the tequila; it reminded us more of a Fresca.

That said, I suspect I’ll be back, although not because of the drinks. It’s a great place to grab a quick bite in the Old Port, the food is fresh and satisfying, and the downstairs seating offers excellent people watching on Exchange Street.

Retired diplomat Angie Bryan writes about Maine’s cocktail bars while making as many puns as her editor allows.

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