South Portland's Taco Trio hitches a trailer to Portland food truck scene

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Knightville’s Taco Trio is hitting the road.

Three years after opening a 28-seat restaurant at the corner of Ocean and E streets, married co-owners Manuel Pena and Karen Rasmussen have put the finishing touches on Taco Trio’s first fully-operational food trailer.

Pena and Rasmussen will be preparing their authentic Mexican cuisine this summer in the mid-sized trailer, with their sights set on breaking into the blossoming food truck scene in Portland, and beyond.

Their first stop: the 41st annual Old Port Festival

Pena and his wife have put in bids in Portland for permanent weekly parking spots in some of the city’s parks. Soon, they hope to bring their tacos, enchiladas and burritos to festivals and private events around southern Maine and New Hampshire.

“The dream would be doing it every week. Every week in the summer, there’s something going on somewhere,” Pena said last week. 

Since the trailer, with two service windows, was formerly owned by a sandwich shop, he only had to make modest changes to its stainless steel kitchen prep stations. 

Pena is no stranger to the food truck scene, having worked in trailer kitchens in North Carolina for years prior to moving to Maine with his wife in 1997. Taco Trio actually began with a small food cart, he said, that they still use for smaller events. 

“I like the restaurant, too, but this is a fun thing to do,” he said of cooking on the go. “It’s definitely a lot of work.”

But, he added, his staff is excited to get started at the Old Port Festival on June 8. 

This is Taco Trio’s first expansion, and perhaps a necessary one, since the trailer is larger than the restaurant’s prep kitchen. And Pena is already thinking about his  next move: a food truck, built his way. 

“We do want to get into trucks, because this one is hard to move,” he said of the trailer. But only, he said, “if this one goes fine.”

Shelby Carignan can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow her on Twitter: @shelbycarignan.

Sidebar Elements

Manuel Pena is bringing Taco Trio from South Portland to Portland and beyond this summer in a new food trailer. 

Manuel Pena, owner of Taco Trio in South Portland, inspects the kitchen in his new food trailer. His Mexican cuisine will be available at the Old Port Festival in Portland on June 8.