El Rayo Taqueria finds a new location in Portland

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It’s not adios for El Rayo Taqueria in Portland. And local burrito and margarita fans breathed a sigh of relief this week when owner Tod Dana announced: “We are moving into the heart of the city.”

Dana, forced to close his hip hideaway on the outskirts of the Old Port recently to make way for an apartment complex, looked for a new location for more than a year. Though originally determined to find a spot as unusual as his 2009 orignal in a renovated gas station, he settled for something more traditional — 26 Free Street, the home of outgoing stationary store Papier.

“I loved the idea of finding another fixer upper,” said Dana Tuesday, “but this is a beautiful space with high, tin ceilings, huge windows, and it is closer to the center of the business district.”

As such, El Rayo’s menu and model is getting tweeked. In the morning and afternoon servers will be replaced with counter help. A new menu of soups and salads are designed for speed. For early birds, a breakfast burrito and coffee special ($5) is in the works. “It’s a new twist for us to start bright and early,” said Dana.

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El Rayo plans to move into this storefront by April 2016

In keeping with its relaxed vibe, a deck is being built off the back. “I am excited about the change,” said the owner, whose Scarborough location is doing gangbusters.

When the wrecking ball comes for the low-slung destination in November, will the owner be crying in his tequila? “It won’t be sad. We’ve had a good run. I’m excitied about the change and the opportunity to do things better.”

Look for an early April opening.

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.