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Mexican around Portsmouth, NH

l
labbe Aug 22, 2010 08:37 AM

Living in the Portsmouth area and craving some good authentic Mexican food, (not Margaritta's, love it but want the real stuff) Don't mind a drive into Norhtern Mass or Southern Maine any suggestions?????

  1. MABMAQ Sep 10, 2010 01:26 PM

    how about La Chaquita in Salisbury and/or Hampton Beach - has the biggest tequila bar in New England (the owner travels to mexico often and brings back small batch brands - he's great at creating drinks according to your likes and dislikes) and the food is homemade, simple with fresh ingredients.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MABMAQ
      l
      lar3ry Sep 10, 2010 04:05 PM

      I never heard of the place. I don't judge a Mexican restaurant by its tequila; I remember one called "Senor Frijoles" in Key Largo, Florida, that didn't serve any alcohol other than wine, and their margaritas (made with wine instead of tequila) that were as good as some places arond here.

      Anyway...

      I'll be at the Seafood Festival tomorrow in Hampton Beach, but that may not be the best time to go into a restaurant, especially with 150,000+ tourons around.

      Thanks for the heads' up.

    2. l
      lar3ry Sep 10, 2010 08:43 AM

      Loco Coco's is arguably the best Mexican around. As far as "what kind of Mexican is it?" questions, my guess is Southern California style Mexican. The food is basic burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and a few other odds and ends.

      The restaurant runs in three styles. First, there's a cafeteria-style free for all seating at the main entrance to the place. Just go up to the cashier, place your order, and they will get it to you when it's cooked (fresh). Next, there's a bar/lounge area where you can have a beer or margarita or other mixed drink, as well as ordering from a menu (same food as in the cafeteria). Finally, there's a "waitress will seat you" dining section (that keeps on getting extended to a porch) where you can order from a menu as well.

      The food is pretty good. I personally love the burritos (carne asada, or my latest favorite, the California burrito with french fries inside it), which come with tortilla chips on the plate as well. I also like the Mexican-style taco (carne asada, with onions, cilantro, and lime wedge), but you'll find that one is hardly ever enough. I usually order a taco with my burrito. My wife likes the quesadillas. On their "specials" menu (which rarely changes), they have a salsa trio sampler, with a terrific Chiotle salsa and freshly-made guacamole (which is orders of magnitude better than the guac they serve with their quesadillas... why have two styles???).

      Fans of other Mexican restaurants may be put out that they charge for chips and salsa (but you can choose your salsa, get the salsa trio special, or simply get the chips free with a burrito).

      Sometimes the restaurant can be crowded, so take that into consideration.

      The walk-in cafeteria seems to be a big hit for the people out for a quick lunch, while the bar/lounge and serving area are great for people that want to spend more time with their food and acquaintances.

      There are other good restaurants in the area but Mexican--or, rather, good Mexican--is kind of rare. I dislike the Margaritas chain; was disappointed by ixtapa Cantina at Fox Run the three or four times I tried it; and have not tried Agave Mexican Bistro in Portsmouth (but tried their chili at the Chili Cook-off, and it's great). There is also Poco's Bow Street Cantina near the Old Ferry Landing off Bow Street, but that's more Cuban than Mexican, although I have not been their since the renovation of the cantina/patio a year or so ago.

      Loco Coco's is one that I constantly travel 45 minutes to get to (from Salem, NH).

      Oh, speaking of the Chili Cook-off, that's a good time and place to sample the various chili offerings from the Seacoast area. It will be held once again at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, NH, October 9th this year--part of the Prescott Park Arts Festival. Last year, it was all you can eat chili from over a dozen restaurants, with beer and other beverages available (extra). (I think it's the "beer" that has the event at the Puddle Dock in Strawbery Banke; I've heard the original donation of Prescott Park was from a prohibitionist during that era that had a clause that rescinds the property back to the original family if alcohol is available at the park. That may or may not be a legend, but it makes sense as to why the Chili Cook-off has moved from the park to the Banke across the street in recent years.)

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      Poco's Bow Street Cantina
      37 Bow St, Portsmouth, NH 03801

      Loco Coco's Tacos
      36 Walker St, Kittery, ME 03904

      Margaritas Mexican Restaurant
      775 Lafayette Rd Ste 1, Portsmouth, NH 03801

      Ixtapa Cantina
      50 Fox Run Rd Ste 75, Newington, NH 03801

      Agave Mexican Bistro DOS
      111 State St, Portsmouth, NH 03801

      1. c
        crabbypatty Sep 9, 2010 06:37 PM

        Loco Coco's in Kittery - fer sure!

        1. chefj Aug 22, 2010 04:23 PM

          You may want to cook at home. As far as my experience living in Portsmouth and environs there is no remotely "Authentic" Mexican food in your area and most of what I had there was awful.
          Last time I was in Manchester I did see a couple of Mexican Grocers and have heard of a few Taco trucks there. I have not been to them so can not speak for their quality or authenticity personally.

          2 Replies
          1. re: chefj
            l
            labbe Aug 23, 2010 07:57 AM

            Thanks...would even go to Northern Mass....I know of one on a back street in Worcester, so was looking for one closer to Portsmouth....thank you for your response...starving for some good Mexican!

            1. re: labbe
              chefj Aug 23, 2010 03:55 PM

              You can get a Rick Bayless cook book delivered to your door ( - :

          2. b
            bewley Aug 22, 2010 01:43 PM

            Loco Coco's Tacos, Kittery Maine

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            Loco Coco's Tacos
            36 Walker St, Kittery, ME 03904

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