Recently I had a photo shoot near Portland, Maine, and I knew I wanted to swing through and grab some lunch. My options were somewhere between Freeport and Kittery. You know me, I went googling for “Maine’s Best Nachos.” I found many lists which led me to a bunch of sad-looking nacho photos, none of which were appealing. Sour cream and salsa that come on the side in little cups of sadness? No thank you. I have a hard time believing any nachos are “best of” anything when they come like that.
One restaurant repeatedly came up on all the lists of best nachos, and that was Taco Escobarr on Congress Street in Portland. And guess what? I’ve already been there and had the nachos. (is anyone surprised?) I will always remember it because it was the night I saw my favorite band The War on Drugs at the State Theatre in September 2022. And because I couldn’t find any other nachos that looked better in the whole state of Maine, I decided to return and have the nachos again. I’m glad I did!
Maine’s Best Nachos at Taco Escobarr
As soon as you walk into Taco Escobarr you think: Fiesta! The interior is colorful, and the ceiling is covered in a million chili pepper lights (probably). There are fun murals on all the walls in Mexican skeletons and luchador themes. The huge bar takes up one whole wall of the restaurant and there are plenty of barstools. Overall I would not say this restaurant would be good for groups. There are maybe three booths, but the rest of the seating is small tables and barstools! Going at an off hour is a good idea. I don’t usually like to sit at the bar but thankfully I found a small table to perch at.
There are windows at the front of the restaurant, at the street entrance. But as soon as you go further into the space, it becomes very dark quickly. I was worried about having enough light for photos, but after a minute my eyes adjusted.
The margaritas are fantastic at Taco Escobarr! You will not find any of that “house mixer” or simple syrup here. They use only fresh squeezed lime juice and the margaritas are sweetened with agave. I don’t like sweet margaritas, so this is exactly how I like them done. Shown above is the El Jefe Margarita which is a classic lime margarita and it’s fantastic. It has Patron silver, Cointreau, grand marnier, fresh lime juice, and agave. It’s a bit pricier than their house margarita, but after knowing how they make the margaritas, the house would have been just fine.
Dig into El Niño Nachos
Maine’s best nachos at Taco Escobarr come in two sizes: the El Jefe Nachos are $15 and El Niño Nachos are $10. Both options come with chips, queso chihuahua, queso fresco, pickled jalapeños, onions, pico de gallo, cilantro, and crema. You can also add guacamole and a protein for an upcharge.
The El Niño Nachos at Taco Escobarr are the half-size portion of their El Jefe Nachos. I thought this was the perfect portion size for one hungry person, and I guess I might have even reluctantly shared it. But I wouldn’t have been happy about it.
The nachos arrive with the overwhelming aroma of cumin. Visually, they are a rainbow of colors, and the cheese is beautifully melty. And thank goodness that they put the crema on top of the nachos and don’t give it on little cups on the side. To me, this is a sign that a place is confident in their nachos and they don’t play to the “maybe some people don’t like sour cream or salsa, so we’ll put it on the side” crowd. Those people are wrong and don’t deserve nachos.
So are these Maine’s best nachos? Without having tried any other nachos in Maine, ever, I’m going to go out on a limb and say yes. After having tried 19 different nachos (and counting) in New Hampshire, these would rank very highly on that list as well.