Mexican Food Review: Portsmouth

Ryan Prinz, Ceo, PHS Paperclip

Portsmouth is home to some of the best restaurants on the seacoast, with award-winning lobster, clam chowder, and plenty of other things native to our coasts. However, many locals would rather eat Mexican food this time of year, as a way to spice things up. 

The first restaurant I went to is not quite Mexican, but a beloved establishment nonetheless. Taco Bell opened its doors to the Portsmouth community in 2015 and has been feeding the people $1 burritos ever since. While the quality of this food is nowhere near the other restaurants on this list, but the value aspect lands it a spot.

The next restaurant looked at was Vida Cantina. Many families in Portsmouth enjoy this place, which replaced Friendly’s a few years back. For me, this place is not worth the price. For $16, I got two skimpy enchiladas and a small plate of Mexican fried rice and refried beans. While the food was good, I just couldn’t justify the price of this place. I’d much rather go to Taco Bell across the street!

For my third location, I went to a new taco joint right outside of downtown Portsmouth, Barrio. I hadn’t tried this place yet, but many of my friends go here all of the time and rave about the things they are doing in that kitchen. The dimly lit restaurant produced possibly the best queso I have ever had, and the tacos are unbelievable. The combination of flavors their menu allows makes for wild creations, all for $3.50 a taco. I had a shrimp taco and a short rib taco, with a smattering of sauces on top. The tacos came with a soft shell on the outside, with guac in between the soft and hard shells of the tacos. Personally, I had never seen this before, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to normal hard shell tacos again.

Finally, I looked at Agave. This was always my favorite restaurant when I was little, but I hadn’t been here in a few years and decided to see if the quality held up to what I remembered it as. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. I got enchiladas con mole, and I received a massive steaming plate of beans and rice, with three thick enchiladas to boot. They were delicious, just as I had remembered. While this was the priciest location on the list, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and felt I got what I paid for.

Throughout my tour of Mexican in Portsmouth, I learned that price isn’t necessarily everything. While I enjoyed my meal at Agave, I felt that I was tossing my money down the drain during my trip to Vida. On the contrary, the two inexpensive restaurants I visited were both fantastic,  Taco Bell and Barrio. (Note: Taco Bell is more of an honorary competitor here, as it hardly counts as Mexican food) . For me, Barrio’s incredible fusion of flavors and their high-quality meat and tortillas all for $3.50 a piece just can’t be beaten.