Thursday, May 05, 2011

La Frontera Mexican Grill

4918 Baseline Road, Little Rock, AR. 501-562-1233

Tucked back from the street at the far end of a sideways facing strip center is a new restaurant that you could easily pass by without noticing. And that would be a shame. It has been a very long time, my friends, since I was excited about a new Mexican Restaurant, but the time has finally arrived.

From the enthusiastically friendly greeting at the front door, to the spotlessly clean and festive decor, your first impressions are sure to be warm. And that can get warmer depending on your choices from the five different salsas they make fresh daily. I preferred the chili arbol salsa as the most exciting flavor, but the verde was excellent and the pineapple salsa was a magnificent diversion and palate cleanser. They have cheese dip for the gringos and it has a very pleasant green chili flavor with just a hint of fire to go with homemade tortilla chips. Did I mention that they make everything fresh there? Did I mention that they have their own bakery? And butcher shop, and grocery?

Speaking of the bakery, the tortas at La Frontera are behemoth loaves of fresh baked bolillo bread with ample amounts of meat and toppings. No hint of the grease soaked bun you find at many other "authentic" venues. And while we're on the subject of authentic, the menu here has something for everyone. There are wonderful authentic dishes including real tacos, menudo, gorditas and sopes, but there are also great Tex-Mex dishes that are familiar to most of us: fajitas, chimichangas and crispy Tex-Mex tacos. There are even some Central American dishes such as pupusas and banana leaf wrapped tamales. It could literally take me years to explore the whole menu. Especially if I get stuck on one thing like I do at most places...

Not only is there NOT a speedy gonzales on the menu, the owner asked me what that is when I mentioned it. How refreshing is that? But there is a whole page of lunch specials in the expansive menu that sound great. Specials like Costillas de Puerco (ribs in green chili sauce) and Tamalitos. Also the old standbys like enchiladas tacos and chimis. And even though you will find stuff that is familiar and comfortable to order, I suggest you stray from the usual and try something different.

Prices are quite reasonable, even lower than at the taco trucks in some instances. The portions are plentiful, the staff attentive and friendly. The only thing I didn't see was a bar. That may be a sticking point for getting our usual gang of margarita drinkers together in this venue.

Out of the way, but worth the drive. Twelve minutes from downtown Little Rock. Go! Now!

June 1, 2011: UPDATE. Went back for lunch with the bride. They have a full bar. For less than five bucks you can get the "small" margarita that is quite large and very potent. Nothing to stop you from going here...