Closed since November, Taco Trio reopens in South Portland

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Manuel Pena hoists the victory flag Thursday in SoPo. Photo by Karen Rasmussen.

After a three-month hiatus, beloved neighborhood Mexican joint Taco Trio reopened without warning Thursday afternoon. Owner Manuel Pena hoisted a flag above the snowbanks piled outside the Knightville eatery in a Facebook post announcing the news.

Pena, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago as his father-in-law took ill, said he was feeling much better and is back in business. After hormone treatment, chemotherapy and surgery, he was scheduled to have radiation in January, but it was postponed. “It’s an aggressive form of cancer that is now under control,” said Pena, who runs the business with his wife Karen Rasmussen.

“We appreciate all the support from customers and people we didn’t even know. They offered their help,” he added. “The people of South Portland and Portland have been very supportive and are excited we are reopened.”

Taco Trio’s Forest Avenue location in Portland will not reopen, however.

Cars passed by and beeped when they saw signs of life in this corner cantina, where an ever-present salsa bar is loaded with spicy condiments, tacos are expertly executed and a friendly vibe prevails.

The restaurant has been closed since Nov. 2 with few intermittent updates. At times locals thought Trio’s number was up.

Instead, it’s back and better than ever.

While recovering, Pena has had time to cook and is beefing up Taco Trio’s classic menu. Look for delicacies from Northern Mexico, like bite-sized tamales (“as big as your thumb”) as well as new dishes and desserts from the Yucatan and Oaxaca to join standards like burritos and enchiladas. The salsa bar will expand and daily specials like chimichanga will appease locals hungering for this savory fare.

Taco Trio, 119 Ocean St., South Portland hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday for now. In late March they will open for six days a week. 

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.