Archive for category The Dish
Last Friday marked my third visit to the popular Heights Taco & Tamale Co. in the Heights neighborhood. Admittedly, I’ve still yet to try some of the more popular dishes like the tamales, cheese dip, Ark-Mex enchiladas, or the pulled pork tacos. My first visit was a quick, late evening pop-in to try the chocolate cake. The second time around, I sat at the bar and downed a plate of bean and cheese nachos.
So, here I was with part of my fam on a blistering hot early afternoon in Little Rock, and the thought of eating enchiladas and tacos was none too appealing. I scanned the menu in search of some lighter options and came across the Ensalada del Sol. The description hooked me, “Grilled Citrus Shrimp, Mango, Avocado, Smoked Tomato Vinaigrette.”
The Yellow Rocket knows a thing or two about creating dynamite salads (see Big Orange and ZAZA), so I had high hopes for HTT’s Ensalada del Sol ($12.50). The salad was beautifully presented with skewers of medium-sized, well-seasoned shrimp resting atop a bed of crisp, chopped romaine lettuce. Perfectly ripe slices of avocado and mango sat on the edges. I quickly removed the tails of each shrimp, cut the mango and avocado into smaller pieces, poured the dressing, and tossed all of the ingredients together.
Ten minutes later, I had polished off the entire plate. In short, the salad was fantastic. The shrimp were cooked just right, and together with the fresh mango and creamy avocado, along with the light vinaigrette, provided for a perfect summertime lunch. It’s worth noting that the mango was so good, I almost ordered another side plate of the fruit.
Would I order this salad again? Absolutely. And it’s nice to know I can walk into a restaurant like this and be able to order a lighter option when I’m not in the mood to be weighed down by heavier bean and cheese based dishes.
Worth noting: On Friday at noon, our party of three was able to sit immediately. I mention this because waits during peak times have reached upwards of 1.5 hours. Also, the service was excellent throughout the meal.
Heights Taco & Tamale Co.
5805 Kavanaugh Blvd
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (kitchen) 11 a.m.-11 p.m. (bar)
Let’s get this insane fact out of the way right off the bat … I’ve lived in Little Rock for three years and yesterday was my first visit to Arkansas Burger Co. Crazy, right? My buddy, Dax (aka The Keyser Soze of LR foodies), has been telling me for months to stop in and order the Hog Burger. Dude is always specific with his directions.
“Get the Hog Burger with cheddar, no mayo.”
Seeing as Dax is batting 1000 on food recommendations, I listened. And once again, he nailed it. The burger comes with thin, crispy bacon and all the traditional toppings like mustard, pickles, shredded lettuce, and tomatoes. The patty is neither thin nor thick and is cooked to a perfect medium. It’s juicy, but not over-seasoned, instead relying on the beef’s flavor and other condiments to elevate the taste.
Simply put, the Hog Burger is a traditional, no frills cheeseburger that is sure to delight. Not to be overlooked were the delightful onion rings. These were of the shoestring variety, and again, like the burger, not an overly seasoned item, but cooked just right. While the fries I sampled were also well prepared, I’d have to rate the rings a tad better.
Is this burger one of the Top 10 in town? I’m certainly no expert, but as it stands, I’d have to slot it on my list.
Worth noting: Great to see a local business packed during a summertime lunch service. It’s obvious Arkansas Burger Co. is a beloved spot among loyal Little Rock burger lovers.
Arkansas Burger Co.
7410 Cantrell Road
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Closed Sunday & Monday
I’m willing to bet that an overwhelming majority of people reading this post have never heard of Super 7 Grocery Store, much less eaten at this hole-in-the-wall taqueria/store located at 1415 John Barrow Road. Frankly, it’s not much to look at from the outside. There’s no glitzy sign, no eye-catching name—it looks like a thousand places you’ve driven by a million times before and never given much thought to check out.
Like many of Little Rock’s top taquerias (La Regional and Mercado San Jose come to mind), Super 7 also doubles as a mini grocery store. On this day, I opted to skip the store side and head right for the restaurant.
As I sat down, my tablemate informed me that Super 7 offers a daily buffet ($8.99). After hearing this information, I immediately rose to my feet and headed to the back of the establishment and found a small, yet fresh assortment of dishes such as refried beans, stewed chicken, rice and taquitos.
“Buffet Me” would have dived right in, but fortunately, he died sometime in his mid-20’s. Now that I’m 37, buffets of any variety, even something as enticing as Super 7’s, are just a bad idea. So, we sat down and ordered a few sandwiches … a wise choice, indeed.
Ten minutes later, a beautiful beef milanesa torta ($6.50) arrived at the table. There’s really no telling how many tortas I’ve eaten in my lifetime, but I can assure you it’s a pretty high number. I’d put Super 7’s torta among some of the best I’ve put away.
But what separates this torta from so many like it? Essentially, it’s the little things—like super fresh bread, perfectly fried beef, ripe avocado and spicy pickled jalapenos—that make a huge difference. Heck, even the shredded American cheese, which you so rarely see, was a nice touch. This torta was big, but not gigantic, and somehow managed not to fall apart into a jumbled mess.
Give it a try. I think you’ll agree that it’s one of the better sandwiches in town.
The crawfish étouffée at The Faded Rose is fantastic! Figured I’d get that out of the way.
A hearty portion of mildly spicy, slightly thickened, blond roux with a plentiful supply of small crawfish tails was topped with a pile of rice and tender celery.
The dish of étouffée ran about $9, which was a great value when you factor in that a basket of Leidenheimer bread and a side soaked salad were included in that price. The Faded Rose’s soaked salad, even with its inclusion of those dreaded green olives, was a perfect balance of oil and vinegar. I gobbled up the entire plate, olives be damned, before the étouffée made its appearance. Truth be told, the Diet Pepsi, salad and half a loaf of bread felt like a satisfying lunch. But when someone puts a plate of crawfish étouffée in front of you, temptation always wins out.
My lunch (with a soda and tax, but excluding tip) cost $12.99. And I was full … as in, I-didn’t-want-to-eat-for-the-rest-of-the-day full. You’ll find that most dishes at The Faded Rose fall under the “stick to your ribs” category, and judging by the steady business, that suits most customers just fine.
Finally, it should be noted that we received wonderful service from our friendly waitress, Beth. Even though the restaurant was practically full, our food arrived at the table within minutes, and the drinks were refilled in routine fashion. Given the bustling setting, it would have been easy for Beth to make us feel rushed with our lunch. Yet she didn’t … another mark of a great server.