For whatever reason, whether it’s small size, an out-of-the-way location, or just a lack of publicity, some restaurants tend to fall under the radar with a larger audience. This series takes a look at these Underrated Places.
Where: Taqueria Guadalajara (3813 Camp Robinson Rd, North Little Rock)
The Restaurant: There are a healthy number of “authentic” Mexican restaurants in central Arkansas, and their menus don’t vary from one another all that much. But not all such restaurants are created equal…and in North Little Rock, you really won’t find much better Mexican than what they’re dishing up at Taqueria Guadalajara. Situated in the foodie-friendly Levy neighborhood, the restaurant is only a quick jump off the I-40 and convenient for both Little Rockers and Dogtowners alike.
The Atmosphere: It’s a casual spot with ample seating inside. Come in and take a seat and one of their servers will be by shortly to grab your order. You can watch all the action on the grill from right behind the counter, or catch a soccer game on one of their overhead TVs. In addition to the restaurant, there’s also a respectable Mexican market and grocery store attached, where you’ll find a meat counter, bakery case, fruits and vegetables, and an array of Mexican canned foods.
The Service: Food comes out quickly, allowing you to easily pop in and out on a lunch break. But speaking Spanish is definitely a plus, as some of their servers speak limited English. But generally speaking, it’s easy to convey just what you want to eat.
The Food: First-timers may want to start with one of their house specialty items (“platillos de la casa”), as this probably sets Guadalajara apart from their competition more than anything else. Definitely consider their “Bistek a la Mexicana” …it’s probably the best thing on the menu. It’s a thinly sliced steak, cooked up on the flat-top with a slight crisp to the exterior. This is served up with fresh tortillas alongside sautéed onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and sour cream with rice and beans. You’ll also find some excellent carnitas and a great milanesa (breaded fried steak) here, too.
The rest of the menu is made up of taqueria standards…but everything I’ve eaten there is above average. Nab some tacos…singly-wrapped corn tortillas with your choice meat, topped with cilantro and onion. Proteins available include al pastor (marinated pork), chorizo, steak, brisket, lengua, chicken, and barbacoa. Their burritos are hefty and filled with deliciousness. Tortas, quesadillas, menudo, gorditas, fajitas, and huaraches help round out the menu.
They also produce a solid Mexican breakfast with a handful of plates available, including chorizo or tocino (Mexican bacon) with eggs. Check out the “huevos estrellados”, as well…a classic dish made up of fried potatoes, eggs, and chorizo. All excellent ways to start the morning.
The Price: Cheap. You can easily get out of here for under $10. Their specials are some of the most expensive items and they only run you $7.99. Tacos are $1.50 a piece, burritos and tortas are $5, and quesadillas are between $3-5. The restaurant is always easy on the wallet.
The Verdict: With Mexican food this good located north of the river…Dogtowners really have (almost) no reason to leave their city for excellent south-of-the-border eats. It’s as good as anything we’ve got going on in Little Rock…and often better.
The Info: Taqueria Guadalajara – 3811 Camp Robinson Blvd, North Little Rock. (501) 753-9991. Open daily from 8 am to 10 pm.