Mexico City-Inspired Taqueria Taco Love Grill Opens at Cross Street Market

| August 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

Taco Love Grill opened last week in the newly-renovated Cross Street Market in Federal Hill. The stall is the second location for the White Marsh-born taqueria from the husband and wife duo of Gelmin and Jimena Portillo.

Taco Love Grill, which is inspired by Jimena Portillo’s favorite hometown taqueria El Asadero in Mexico City, offers tacos, burritos, quesadillas, Mexican drinks, and sides. The stall features exposed brick, white subway tile, reclaimed wood, and a mural honoring Mexican street food that reads “A falta de amor cinco al pastor.” In English, this essentially translates to “in the absence of love, order five tacos.”

Gelmin Portillo grew up in Highlandtown. Both Portillos are business administration graduates from University of Baltimore and live with their family in Baltimore County.

The Portillos opened Taco Love Grill in White Marsh in 2011. The restaurant has expanded twice including a relocation within the shopping center. It started with just four tables and now can host 99 guests. The Portillos had been thinking of opening a second location and decided to take a closer look at Cross Street Market after being contacted by the leasing team of CANAdev. They had always been fans of Federal Hill and the Cross Street Market and decided this would be a good expansion opportunity.

Taco Love Grill in White Marsh now has a large menu with several pages of food offerings and more than 80 mezcals and 100 tequilas. But, the Cross Street Market location will be a return to Taco Love Grill’s beginning as it will have a small menu and be in a smaller space with more of a fast-casual concept. The new stall has five bar stools and sits adjacent to the market’s common seating areas.

The meats at Taco Love Grill at Cross Street Market are grilled or slow roasted and include pork offerings of Al Pastor, chorizo, and carnitas; chicken and chicken with bacon; steak and barbocoa (slow-cooked beef); shrimp; and tofu. A traditional Mexican taco comes with the meat, cilantro, onions, and a lime on a house-made corn tortilla. Tacos can also be ordered “American” with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and sour cream. Taco Love Grill also offers flour tortillas.

Customers can add their favorite meats to quesadillas, as well as order burritos or burrito bowls with meat, rice, beans, lettuce, cheese, onions, tomato, sour cream, and avocado.

Sides includes rice and beans, and guacamole. Appetizers include chips and salsa, chips and guacamole, San Diego-inspired carne asada fries, and nachos.

The dessert menu includes sweet tortillas and churros.

Taco Love Grill’s list of cocktails includes three flavors of its house margarita; the Presidente Margarita with brandy and orange liquor along with the tequila and sour mix; the Mezcalita De Pina with Peloton Mezcal, pineapple juice, cilantro, and jalapeño; and house sangria. Mexican beers include Victoria, Pacifico, and Corona.

Non-alcoholic beverages include Mexican Coke, multiple flavors of Mexican soda, Jarritos, and apple-flavored Mexican carbonated drink Sidral.

Taco Love Grill is open Monday to Thursday from 11am to 8pm, Friday and Saturday from 11am to 9pm, and Sunday from 11am to 6pm.

The Portillos expect to have six employees at Taco Love Grill.

The Portillos are excited about all the different concepts at Cross Street Market and think it will function as “one big place.” They encourage customers to bring other offerings to their bar while enjoying a margarita.

Read’s articles detailing the different aspects of the Cross Street Market redevelopment here.

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