Tucked into an L-shaped strip mall on Post Road, where one of the few remaining Newport Creamerys is the anchor and various eateries have come and gone, is Trini's Tacos. Trini's slipped into this nook last August under mother-and-daughter owners Mercedes and Charlene Wesley, as well as Emily Navakauskas. Mercedes is the head cook, using recipes she learned growing up in El Paso and from her grandmother, Trini, who was from Juarez.
This modest spot has a straight-ahead menu of tacos, enchiladas, flautas, burritos, quesadillas, and tostadas, with combos available for the first three that are accompanied by rice and pinto beans. You can choose one item with the sides for $6; two for $7.25; three for $8.
|Trini's Tacos | 401.295.4111 | 7669 Post Rd, North Kingstown | Mon-Thurs, 11 Am-9 Pm; Fri-Sat, 11 Am-10 Pm | Major Credit Cards | No Bar or BYOB | Sidewalk-Level Accessible|
Fillings for the tacos, enchiladas, and flautas vary but the chicken and beef incarnations are Trini specialties. The ground beef is marinated with a spice rub for at least four hours before it's cooked; the white meat chicken is simmered with tomatoes and onions for a distinctive and delicious flavor.
The flautas are corn tortillas rolled cigar-like tight, then pan-fried to crispiness and served with salsa, sour cream, and avocado ($2.50 for two). I loved the chicken flautas, along with the homemade salsa and the made-fresh-for-each order guacamole, the latter chunky with avocado and tomatoes.
The tacos feature chicken, beef, slow-roasted shredded pork, or mashed potatoes ($2.50 each). That's right: mashed potatoes. The family story about this dish begins with an annual tradition: each Christmas Eve, Mercedes and her sister Rita cook a big spread of Mexican food, and one year they heard that a cousin who was coming to dinner was a vegetarian, so they invented the mashed potato taco for her. It turns out she was studying to be a veterinarian! But the Wesleys put their invention on the menu and named it "el Jeffe," after a friend, Jeff, who is a vegetarian.
Once the mashed potatoes are spooned onto the tortilla, it is folded and browned until it holds that familiar taco shape, and then grated cheese, chopped tomatoes, and shredded lettuce are added. A minor suggestion: as tasty as it was, I wanted the cheese to be melted onto the potatoes — could it be put in before the whole is pan-toasted?
After careful consideration, Bill ordered a burrito (he's always been partial to flour tortillas, though I put them in second place, having eaten quite a bit of Tex-Mex whenever I visited East Texas as a kid). Once he'd selected the pork option ($6.75) — there are also chicken, beef, and veggie burritos — he could choose from a list of nine other ingredients to include: rice, beans, cheese, avocado, sour cream, lettuce, tomato, salsa, or cilantro. Thus, his burrito also featured rice, beans, cheese, and cilantro.
Meanwhile, the other two members of this taco party — Sandy and Big Sandy, female and male, respectively — went for combos of enchiladas, one beef and one chicken, in soft corn tortillas with one red sauce and one green-chili-and-cheese sauce. They devoured them with gusto, commenting on the low-dose spiciness (you could always douse it with hot sauce, to your preference).