Nibbles & Bites: Sunfire Mexican Grill, in Rockland, Maine


I’ve always enjoyed Sunfire Mexican Grill, but with so many restaurants in the area, I don’t get to go often. After a few years absence, I finally returned with my friend G the other night, and the experience lived up to my memories.

Sunfire occupies a double store front on Rockland’s lower Main Street. It’s bright and cheery inside, with wood floors, gold-hued walls, Mexican artwork that rises above kitschy, and a mix of wood and mosaic-tiled tables spaced well apart.

The Cal-Mex menu reflects the owners’ roots: They met in California, and his grandmother was Mexican. This isn’t the place to go for overflowing platters of Mexicanesque food glopped with cheese. Sunfire dishes out fresh Mexican with a Maine accent: think crabmeat enchiladas. Nor is it the place to go for a cheap meal: House specialties run $14-16. Of note, chips and salsa are not complementary here; a trio plate of chips, salsa, and guac is about $8.

Sunfire’s wine list is meager at best, and neither of the two whites I tasted had much going for it. Serving them in a regular glass didn’t help. G ordered a Margarita, smart girl. That’s the way to go here, and that’s what I’ll do next time I return.

Unlike many Mexican restaurants, Sunfire’s menu isn’t overwhelming, but it covers all bases. It offers quesadillas, salads, tostadas, burritos, and combo plates in addition to a handful of specialties. We opted for latter. I ordered the fish tacos, G opted for the mole chicken enchiladas, and we shared plates. Both were delicious, but we both think the fish tacos, made with fresh, blackened haddock and a smokey chipotle lime crema, won the taste war. The fish was moist, the flavor sharp.

Both entrees came with refried beans, rice, and small salad comprising lettuce and pickled red onions. We found the portions right-sized for one person; we didn’t have any leftovers and both of us cleaned our plates. Then again, neither of us our big eaters. I suspect some might leave hungry, although an order of salsa, guac, and chips would likely cure that.

Those who’ve traveled extensively in  Mexico or savored authentic Cal-Mex in southern California won’t find the heat or punch of those locales, but Sunfire is a bright spot for Mexican in the state furthest from the inspiration.