Rio Plano Taqueria may have closed its doors earlier this year, but Lowell residents can still enjoy Mexican food at its former location over the Flat River.
Los Portales recently opened in the building at 101 W. Main Street in the historic downtown and is offering an extensive menu that features lunch, dinner and kids’ meals. The restaurant also has a full bar featuring a selection of beer, wine, margaritas and top-shelf tequila.
Drawn to Lowell’s Thriving Business District
Maricela Melendez is the woman behind Los Portales. The 39-year-old was born and raised in Mexico before coming to the U.S. about 18 years ago. Over the years, she has owned several restaurants in West Michigan, and if you frequent Greenville, you may be familiar with her other eateries: El Rancho and El Jalapeño.
When asked what drew her to Lowell, she is quick to mention the numerous festivals and activities happening in the downtown district. “It’s always busy,” Melendez says. What’s more, the city’s atmosphere is appealing. “It feels comfortable and homey.”
However, it took a while for Melendez to find a location in Lowell. “We were looking for a place for about a year,” she says. “We couldn’t find the right fit.”
She was about to give up when she got a call saying that Rio Plano Taqueria was closing and inviting her to come tour the space. With a few adjustments to the décor, it ended up being the perfect landing spot for her latest endeavor.
Los Portales: A Gathering Spot
Los Portales doesn’t have an equivalent word in English, at least not as Melendez describes it. While the word can refer to the arches found in haciendas, it can also be used to describe how family gatherings often take place in Mexico.
According to Melendez, during family visits – such as to grandma’s house – children gather in an enclosed area outside the house as grown-ups visit inside. While it is hard to define in English exactly how Los Portales describes these visits, the word conveys a sense of a safe gathering place.
Melendez hopes her new restaurant will become a gathering spot for Lowell residents. “The food is good,” she says. “Service is amazing.”
Delivery and Dine-In Available
The Los Portales menu includes a wide range of items including tacos, burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, quesadillas and veggie plates. Melendez says two of her favorite dishes are the tacos carne asada and molcajete, which includes steak, chicken and shrimp in a red sauce. “It’s very flavorful,” she notes.
Although the menu features traditional Mexican fare, Melendez stops short of saying it’s authentic. She notes that authentic Mexican food is heavily seasoned with spices and may not be to everyone’s liking.
“We try to make it a happy medium,” she says. “[We’re] in the middle of authentic and Tex-Mex.”
In addition to dine-in service, meals at Los Portales can be ordered to-go. Currently, the restaurant is open seven days a week during the following hours:
- Monday-Thursday: 11am-9pm
- Friday: 11am-10pm
- Saturday: 11:30am-10pm
- Sunday: 11:30am-9pm
To see a menu, visit the Los Portales Facebook page.