Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Taqueria Karina and Cafe

In central Arkansas you'll find loads of what I call "white cheese" Mexican restaurants, all of them serving pretty much the same bland runny beans and lackluster entrees.

But lodged in a strip center way out on 65th street, you'll find an oasis of authentic Mexican food called Karina's. The friend that told me about the place swears it's Katrina with a "T", and corrects me when I say it without. Either way, I don't think they'll mind when you come in.

I'll caution you that most of the staff has a less than rudimentary grasp of the English language, so a familiarity with the cousine is going to be a big help to the non-Spanish speaking diner. On more than one occasion I've tried to ask questions about certain menu items, only to have the wait staff look at me without speaking and bring the actual dish to me a few minutes later. You learn to eat some interesting things that way.

There are generally a couple of specials on the board when you come in and so far all of them that I've tried have been very good. Yesterday I tried the "tres tacos de carnitas con arroz y frijoles," which were lightly sauteed corn tortillas wrapped around chunks of succulent, juicy pork roast, topped with onions and cilantro and served with beans and rice. The deep red chipotle pepper sauce that came in a little bowl was a perfect topping along with a few squeezes from the supplied lime wedges. For only $3.99, I left feeling quite satisfied.

We also tried the Xango, which is cheesecake wrapped in a flour tortilla, deep fried and served with icecream and whipped cream. One serving was enough to handle the three of us at our table.

The extensive menu has so many things that I have not tried before that it may take me years to get through them all. That's if I can get past the daily special that tends to be items that aren't on the menu. I reccommend that you stray from the familiar path of so called "Mexican food" and try some of the dishes like Chuleta de Puerco (pork chops) and the Sopa Tarasca (tarasca soup). At some point I intend to delve into the wonderful looking Mariscos (seafood) menu.

All in all, this place is deceptive. By all appearances it is a hole in the wall dive. But the food is very good and the folks are all friendly and helpful. You won't be disappointed. As long as you're not expecting your standard "white cheese" Mexican food...

5309 W 65th Street, Little Rock


At 10:36 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best carna asada tacos in Little Rock


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