The first thing you would think of for food when visiting Rockland, Maine is probably not Tex-Mex. You also would probably not count a food shack behind the police station in a parking lot at the public boat landing on the waterfront as one of your must eat destinations, but perhaps you should. Shell's Southwest Grill is a not to be missed food experience. A small food cart with lots of spicy attitude and food, its a place for those that are looking for something other then the usual seafood ( THAT'S ME !!).
I found this place by looking at an old local flyer tacked to the wall at the train station. The add claimed it was home to the original pulled pork burrito ( I never knew there was a debate about this). I love pulled pork so I thought it sounded like a good place for lunch. The weather outside was rainy and dreary so I was looking forward to a real sit down restaurant affair. Needless to say, I was a bit surprised when I realized the Shells was basically a funky designed and painted shack with a few picnic tables placed on a lawn to eat at.
I already knew what I was going to try but Simone was unsure of her meal so we looked over the hand written menu for a few moments. The ladies behind the counter ( I assume that one was Shell herself) highly recommended the 12 inch pulled pork burrito, a little spicy but wonderful they told me. I liked the sound of that and placed my order. Simone looking up at the cloudy skies and feeling the chill decided to warm up with some black bean & beef chili. I also ordered some homemade limeade which reminded of how summer is supposed to be. My pork was quickly placed on the grill to heat along with the tortilla. Cheese was melted on top and then the whole thing was topped of with a mountain of fresh made cilantro coleslaw and wrapped up. The ladies sadistically chuckled, and let me know that I was going to need lots of napkins for this meal but it would be well worth it. They also finished of Simone's Chili with some cheese and scallions. As the sprinkles came down, Simone and I had a seat at one of the picnic tables.
I hunched over with napkins in hand and took a large bite from my Burrito. While the ladies in the shack looked on , I proceeded to spill slaw and pork juice down my face. The ladies were correct- it was messy, but it was a delicious mess.
The pulled pork was juicy, tender and filled with a spicy and smokey heat from the rub. The slaw cooled the seasoning down just enough and the combo of the hot and cold just worked perfectly. This was so good that I had to find out what was on the pork so I asked. The response from the shack came quick. With another sarcastic and sadistic tone I was told that I would never know the rub, even if I guessed all day. The secret would die with Shell herself (even the other girl in the shed was not able to know- she could only cook and enjoy the mystery also).
Simone's chili was also very good- It was received piping hot with a side of tortilla chips. It had great flavor with layers of smokey cumin, chili spices and Cilantro. It was thick, hearty and beefy and a great choice on such a cool damp day. I had no problam helping Simone finish it off.
Simone and I really liked this place. The location, the ladies, the funkiness and the food were all unique and I would urge you to take the time to find Shell's Southwest Grill and give it a try. It is truly some great Tex-Mex food in the heart of coastal southern Maine. (Just done ask about the pork rub) 4.5 stars for Shells.