Michael Rossney, who with his wife, Michele Levesque, co-owns El El Frijoles in Sargentville, admits that it’s probably a good thing to be skeptical about Mexican food in Maine — despite the fact that that’s just what they make in their beautiful, colorful old barn, halfway in between Blue Hill and Deer Isle.
“I think a healthy dose of skepticism is important when you’re talking about Mexican food in Maine,” said Rossney. “But anybody that’s been here will tell you that we’ve pretty much pulled it off.”
Since 2007 the pair have been making enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas and, yes, burritos, utilizing fresh, local ingredients and a careful eye for authenticity. Rossney and Levesque lived most of their lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, a region renowned for its Mexican-American cuisine, in particular for its burritos. When the two decided to move to Maine — Levesque grew up on the East Coast — they knew they wanted to bring their favorite food with them. It just so happened that a taqueria (a small taco shop) was exactly what the Blue Hill Peninsula needed.
“We’re so busy some nights during the summer it’s just absolute madness,” said Levesque. “I think we’re teaching people to peel their burritos, instead of eat them with a knife and fork.”
But lest you think it’s garden-variety Mexican fare, the folks at El El Frijoles have some truly unique dishes on the menu. Besides beef, pork and chicken tacos and burritos, you can get specials like the local crab quesadilla (creamy and fresh-picked in Deer Isle), ceviche (super fresh local shrimp, marinated in chiles and limes until it’s cooked) and a number of grilled and marinated steak and chicken dishes, served in sauces Levesque concocts herself, and with local beans and vegetables from area farms.
“The Blue Hill Peninsula has an amazing bounty of delicious produce that comes on right in the middle of summer when we’re busiest,” said Rossney. “It’s very convenient.”
In the winter, when the barn closes for the season, Levesque and Rossney host a series of supper clubs featuring a slightly more upscale menu from the charmingly casual setting of the regular restaurant. Right now, however, El El Frijoles is a happening joint — for traveling families, as well as motorcyclists on long rides and local folks hankering for a quick, filling lunch.
El El Frijoles is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, at 41 Caterpillar Road in Sargentville.