George

A wonderful family getaway planned by our kids found us in a huge home on the ocean at Pine Point in Scarborough. The group included daughter Rebekah, son-in-law Patrick, grandsons Addison and Vishal, son Joshua, daughter-in-law Kelly and granddaughters Ada and Esme (who live in Massachusetts) and daughter Hilary, who flew in from Washington, D.C.

As you can imagine, it’s not easy to get all of us together so this was a special long weekend that started on Thursday. We enjoyed beach walks at Ferry Beach and Pine Point where Ada built a fantastic sand castle. Just up the road was Scarborough Marsh, managed by our Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. We enjoyed two birding walks there, admiring all the shore birds, including great egrets.

While our family is blessed with great cooks — and we did enjoy some memorable feasts — we opted for one lunch out, stopping at El Rayo Taqueria on our way home from a visit to Prouts Neck and Ferry Beach. Both Hilary and Josh recommended this place, which we’d heard about but never visited.

Well, I predict El Rayo, which also has a restaurant in Portland, will be on our regulars list from now on. Linda will tell you about the food, which was both plentiful and very tasty. But I will say that the shrimp taco was my favorite. In the menu we read that El Rayo is “committed to flavorful and healthy cooking.” Boy, was I glad to hear that my meal was healthy. And the Maine brews went well with our meals.

But it was watching the kids excitedly enjoying their meals that most pleased me. Linda was so excited about this place that she dropped her hat in the parking lot as we left. Two days later, suspecting that’s where she left it, we stopped and the manager came out and helped her find it. Now, that’s great service!

Linda

How do you meet everyone’s tastes when you want lunch out with a party of 11, ages 4 months to 68 years old? El Rayo Taqueria was a perfect fit for us while on a visit to the Scarborough area. An understanding staff makes families feel welcome, and as I looked around, there were indeed many who had discovered this was a family-friendly place.

Brightly colored cushioned chairs and an open layout lend a modern feel to this large eatery. Comfortable booths with a variety of seating options can accommodate parties of six to 10. Festive tablecloths cover picnic tables in an outdoor seating area as well. A bold blue accent wall featured hand-stamped animal shapes, Mexican Coke bottles hold hot sauce, and tequila bottles are the salt shakers.

We were pleased with the extensive menu. Ada enjoyed a kids’ menu burrito and starving boys descended happily upon tacos and a quesadilla. The chile fritas appetizer of shishito peppers with sea salt was a great starter for the adults. I can see why it is labeled as an El Rayo favorite.

There’s a choice of 10 different tacos. The Taco Plate ($10.95) includes a choice of two of the many interesting types of tacos. We ended up trying seven varieties and all were great. Tacos are served on double layers of warmed corn tortillas. You really appreciate the two layers when you see how stuffed they are.

The al pastor was highly recommended by Josh. It had pork, braised in milk, with a wonderful grilled pineapple salsa. George and I both loved this one. I also tried the Seta, a portobello and crimini mushroom taco with corn salsa, Monterey Jack cheese, grilled corn salsa and lettuce. The deep flavor in the mushrooms made this one satisfying.

The taco plates come with a side of rice and beans and I thought the portion size was perfect — enough to fill you up without leftovers. (Tacos don’t reheat successfully for me.) You can order tacos individually, a la carte, with a price range of $3 to $5.

Hilary ordered the chilaquiles, which is an authentic Mexican dish. Tortilla chips simmered in a chipotle sauce with pulled pork were topped with avocado and cotija cheese. She loves this comfort food and ordered hers with fried eggs on top — smokey and delicious.

The mention of churros quickly excited grandsons Addi and Vishal. They put in an order while we adults were still finishing our entrees. Churros are a Mexican-style doughnut served warm with a dish of chocolate sauce for dipping. George claimed to want to try a bite, then proceeded to eat an entire churro. Luckily, the boys were still willing to give up a big bite from the remainder for Ada. Chocolate all over her face, with eyes closed as she savored it, said it all.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.