Posts Tagged beef

Burrito de Carnitas is an Excellent Option at Taqueria Karina

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There’s a good chance that most people reading this post have never even heard of Taqueria Karina. But for those who have experienced the restaurant at 5309 W. 65th Street, you know the food is worthy of high praise.

And that’s exactly what I’m about to do.

It all starts out with a chips and salsa combination that is, to date, the best I’ve come across in Little Rock. The chips are thin, crisp, and absolutely fresh–perfect for dipping into the warm, soupy, slightly spicy salsa. In my experience, most Mexican restaurants in this area either do a good job with the chips or the salsa, but not both, and more often than not, neither. So kudos to Karina for starting the meal off right.

I’ve only eaten at Taqueria Karina three times, so while my knowledge of the menu is still fairly limited, I can definitely recommend leaning towards beef and pork options, as the chicken tends to be on the dry side. Don’t get me wrong, the chicken isn’t bad, but the beef and pork are far superior … especially the pork. On my most recent visit, I ordered the Burrito de Carnitas, a plate that included a large tortilla stuffed with a heaping portion of tender, shredded pork meat, as well as a serving of rice and beans. The pork was magnificent, seriously, like really magnificent. For the most part, the chef kept the fatty pieces off the plate, which was very appreciated. The rice was fine–nothing stellar–but no worries from my end, as accompanying rice is usually viewed as a plate filler for me. The refried beans were a little runny for my liking, but again, this comes down to personal preference.

If you’ve never been to Taqueria Karina, I highly recommend trying this underrated hidden gem in SWLR. And if you have been, please let me know what you like and dislike.. It will be difficult to divert from the burrito, but I’m willing to try.

Hours:
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 10:30AM–9PM
Friday: 10:30AM–10PM
Saturday: 10:30AM–10PM
Sunday: 10:30AM–10PM
Monday: 10:30AM–9PM
Tuesday: 10:30AM–9PM

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The Dish: Time to Find Super 7 Grocery Store

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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.

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Around the World Thursday at Forty Two

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One of the biggest shortcomings of the Little Rock food scene is that many of the chefs/restaurants tend to play it safe with menu items. Forgoing creativity in favor of familiarity, they often lose the opportunity to introduce diners to new and innovative dishes. That’s a soapbox issue I’ll save for another day, but it did get me to thinking about why I enjoyed my recent seven-course, Around the World Dinner at Forty Two (inside the Clinton Presidential Center) so much.

It was creative … and it took some chances.

Chef Burrow and his team prepared a themed menu for the evening, all part of an event the restaurant holds each month centered-around the cuisine of a chosen country. This month was Korea.

While Forty Two obviously does not specialize in Korean food, I certainly applaud them for branching out and attempting a style of food unfamiliar to both their chefs and many local diners.

Was every course a homerun? No. Some missed the mark, like the stone grilled mussels and Korean barbecue short ribs, but others were absolutely fantastic, like the bulgogi, a marinated Akaushi beef with scallions, sticky rice and soy-brewed shiitakes, as well as the Korean fried chicken, and a dessert course of street-vendor pancakes.

The insane amount of food, coupled with a low price tag and an admirable amount of risk-taking, earned Forty Two a certain amount of leniency for any minor missteps. I’ve never eaten that much well-cooked food for such a low cost, making the entire evening feel almost like an act of kindness from the restaurant. I’ll shut up now before Forty Two raises the price for September, but just know that if you’re in the mood for a fun evening filled with innovative cooking, these Around the World Thursdays provide a wonderful option.

It’s also worth noting that chef Stephen Burrow exuded a calm command over his kitchen, a trait we were fortunate enough to witness while dining at the chef’s table. He and his team rifled through course after course with a controlled, systematic precision that was both unexpected and quite impressive. And the best part? They all seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves.

As were we.

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More Info: Around the World Thursdays are held on the third Thursday of each month and cost $27.95 per person. Seating is limited and reservations are required. For more info, visit their website or call 501.537.0042

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