Paloma’s Restaurant in Old Orchard Beach is an all-day, casual Latin-American fusion restaurant with a menu that breaks from the New England beach town norm. Courtesy of Paloma’s Restaurant

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Restaurant menus near the beach tend to be predictable.

Most feature Maine seafood in various family-friendly guises like seafood platters, lobster rolls and fish sandwiches, along with a smattering of familiar faves like burgers, pizza and wings. You don’t often find menu items that depart from the tried-and-true enough to make your day at the beach feel more like an actual vacation.

Paloma’s Restaurant at 15B Grand Ave. serves its Latin-American fusion food all day, offering a refreshing break from customary beach restaurant food. The casual restaurant itself is a three-minute walk from Saco Bay, but the menu has the potential to transport you much farther.

I visited for lunch on a quiet Wednesday afternoon. The attentive, smiling staff seemed to hustle regardless of crowd size, and I was instantly given a menu.

I scanned the choices, which include American standards like chicken tenders with honey mustard and fries and a fried fish sandwich, but if you’re just slightly more adventurous, you can go for starters like chicken skewers with chimichurri salsa ($9) or bacon scallops skewers with tomatillo jelly ($11).

Main dishes include a Cuban sandwich ($13), taco salad in a fried tortilla bowl ($14), and salchipapa “poutine” ($12), one of the town’s most intriguing variations on the fries-gravy-cheese dish so popular with its many Canadian visitors.


Paloma’s version – a mashup of French Canadian poutine and the South American salchipapa dish of fries and sausage – includes chicken, sausage, garlic aioli, queso cotija and a quail egg. The luxe little egg hints at the pedigree of owners Carlos Guzman and Alejandra Herrera, who also operate the upscale Latin restaurant Pacifico in Saco and Quiero Cafe in Saco and Portland.

Guzman and Herrera joined with partner Adriana Garcia to open Paloma’s on July 1. Open all day, Paloma’s also serves omelettes and breakfast sandwiches ($11) in the mornings.

I was grabbing lunch alone, or would have loved to try the poutine, which the server said comes in a generous portion and has been growing popular with customers already in their first month.

Beer-battered fish tacos in corn tortillas at Paloma’s. Tim Cebula

Instead, I chose the fish tacos ($14). The two tacos arrived within 10 minutes with a side of house-made tortilla chips. Two warm, soft corn tortillas were folded around each taco, sturdy enough not to tear, yet still tender and full of corn flavor. The beer-battered fried fish inside was meaty and moist, a welcome change from the usual flaky white fish that seem to be the go-to for fried fish dishes in Maine.

The crisp-crusted fish was topped with creamy coleslaw, adding nice crunch and light tang to each bite along with bright flavor from a hint of fresh cilantro. A few slices of pickled jalapeno sit atop each taco, easy enough to remove if you prefer mild tacos.

I also ordered a side dish of elotes ($9), the Mexican street vendor-style fresh corn. The two ears came with the traditional slathering of tangy Mexican crema (like thin sour cream) and mayo, along with fine, salty crumbles of cotija cheese and a liberal sprinkling of Tajin seasoning, which blends ground dried chile peppers, lime and sea salt.


The flavorings that coat the elotes at Paloma’s lend the corn creamy texture and big, bold flavor without being spicy hot. If you’re just dipping your toes into elotes for the first time, it’s easy enough to scrape away some of the crema and spice to give yourself a graduated intro to the dish.

To drink, I selected one of Paloma’s fresh lemonades mixed with a choice of fresh fruit purees, including strawberry, mango, passion fruit and pineapple ($6). I went with mango, which was eye-openingly refreshing and tasty.

Between the lush tropical beverage, the Latin seasonings in the food, the palm tree wallpaper and various tropical-themed decorative touches in Paloma’s, I felt miles and miles away from Maine, and more like I was eating lunch at a fried fish shack in Latin America.

Caramel-filled churros at Paloma’s, doughnut sticks with cinnamon and sugar. Tim Cebula

Then came the churros ($9), Latin American cinnamon-spiced doughnut sticks. Regardless of what you order at Paloma’s, save room for their churros, which are filled with caramel.

They came to the table still hot from the kitchen, four 4-inch churros with crunchy fluted exteriors giving way to tender, moist cake and rich, flowing caramel inside. They’d make an excellent treat to take back to the beach, a star attraction at your breakfast or brunch spread at home, or just a delightfully decadent snack anytime.

I’ll be back soon to try more of their menu, especially the salchipapa poutine. And, of course, I’ll be making their churros a regular part of my weekend breakfasts. Talk about predictable.



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