October 22, 2012

Zapoteca (Portland, ME)

I know what you're thinking-- I thought it, too! Mexican food in Maine? YES. I'm a risk-taker sometimes, and this time it paid off so, so deliciously.

ABF & I found parking on a drizzly, dark night in downtown Portland. You might almost miss Zapoteca--it's on the fringe of the busy downtown area, but it looked warm, welcoming, and took our walk-in immediately!

I ordered a margarita.. A habañero-watermelon margarita ($10), thankyouverymuch. It had habañero-infused tequila, watermelon purée, agave nectar, a splash of lime juice, and orange liqueur. It was smashing...without getting me smashed! I only had one, but oh, I could see having a few of these quite easily! Smooth, perfectly balanced, with the watermelon and the hot pepper both noticeable and not overpowering each other. Even ABF was impressed.

ABF ordered a pint of the Allagash White, a take on a Belgian wheat beer by Portland-based Allagash Brewing Company. ABF really, really liked this beer-- we picked some up the next day to bring home.
To start: deliciously decadent Queso Fundido Con Champiñones (melted cheese with mushrooms- $12). It was a creamy, stringy pan of local jack cheese, mushrooms, and dark Mexican beer-- wow. They melt it all up in the fire-roasted wood oven and we could not get enough of this.

My entrée, the Relleno de Puerco (roasted poblano pepper stuffed with pork- $16). This was shut-my-mouth good. A tender, fire-roasted poblano pepper bursting with chorizo, pork tinga, and queso fresco, and covered with a tomato-habañero sauce. Oh that sauce. I'd put it on cereal if I could. A nice, building, intense heat that complemented the flavors without obliterating them in heat.
It came with a simple arugula salad drizzled with a slightly hot gaujillo-chili dressing, and creamy refried black beans. Solid dish all around, and while I couldn't eat it all, I probably ate a few bites more than I should have because it just tasted so wonderful.

ABF went with his go-to dish (and one of my favorites): Enchiladas Suizas De Pollo (chicken enchiladas in a tomatillo sauce- $17). This had succulent chicken, the same cheese as in our queso fundido, with a fabulous tomatillo sauce--zomg. Wood oven roasted enchiladas filled with tender chicken breast & local artisan jack cheese. Creamy fire-roasted tomatilla sauce, black beans & a little bit of that guajillo arugula salad.

We loved just about EVERYTHING about this spot-- the amazing, perfectly-turned out food, the service, the low-key atmosphere, and the fact that we could HEAR each other across the table (no deafening sound system, their music was audible without drowning out our words), and of course, the pitch-perfect margarita! Sure, it could be lit a little better (the lighting is a bit shadowy at night and made menu reading a bit of a challenge at times), but that's a small mark compared to all the excellence. And OH the food! This will be one of our first stops when we return to Portland.


505 Fore St

Portland, ME 04101

(207) 772-8242

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