A taqueria is a person in your neighborhood.

September 2nd, 2012

An introduction to traditional Mexican food in Little Rock

The thing that excites me about football is the menu. The only thing, in fact. The Arkansas Razorbacks played their first football game of the season yesterday, so naturally, I cooked a big mess of pork. I tossed together the ingredients for Slow Cooker Carnitas, then turned to the voices in my head Facebook for suggestions on where to find really good tortillas to go with it.

You know how when you were a kid, your Mom would say, “If your friends all jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?”

My answer to that was always yes. Yes, Mom, I would.

I was parked outside Taqueria Karina within the hour. Sure enough, there was a tortilleria next door. I admit, the “Brenda” threw me. Like “Pedro’s Pub” would. But I guess that’s what they call fusion cuisine.

Señora Brenda may or not be from Mexico, but she knows how to make tortillas. Lots of tortillas. It was quite the production.

Also, she sells Mexican Coca-Cola. Which all the hip kids swear is the authentic Coke formula.

By “authentic,” I always assumed they mean “flavored with cocaine.” But it turns out it contains sugar (not high fructose corn nastiness), which is even better.

So I bought a stack of fresh pressed tortillas, and a Mexican Coke, and was about to head home, when I remembered the taqueria next door.

I had a good feeling about this place. I ordered a couple of chicken tacos to go, then thought better of it, and took a seat.

Yes, I was the suburban mom gawking around the ethnic inner-city restaurant and snapping pictures with my phone like a tourist.

I thought about explaining that I have a blog, but decided that wouldn’t really help me seem cooler. I went for damage control instead, and spared the wait staff any attempts at Spanish that would be painful for us both.

Then the food came. Oh, my.

I may not get out much, but I know good lunch when I find it.

I’m crowd sourcing all my meals from now on.

What’s for breakfast?

Photos (and navigation out of midtown) accomplished with HTC Droid Incredible, provided by Verizon Wireless Ambassador program, through which I have been provided with a wireless device and three months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product. Tortilleria Brenda and Taqueria Karina are innocent bystanders.


7 Responses to “A taqueria is a person in your neighborhood.”

  1. Anna says:

    Thanks for reminding me about Karina. It’s been forever since I’ve been and it’s soooo good!

  2. marilee pittman says:

    Next time I visit I want to go there!

  3. MW says:

    Just to let you know, Branda actually is a Hispanic name!

  4. Brenda or Branda? I always think of Brenda as an Irish name…like Brendan!

  5. Cindy Bemis says:

    I’m glad you found the taqueria and tortilleria, and that you enjoyed both. Being a 32 year resident of Little Rock, nearly all of which has been in the area known as Southwest, I’d be remiss if I failed to point out that 65th street is most definitely not “inner city,” but rather was quite suburban itself from the 1950s onward.

    When I moved to Little Rock as a 15 year old military brat, this area was very blue-collar and mostly white. Over the years we’ve seen a change in the racial mix which, for me, has never been a concern. Particularly in the last ten years, we have been privileged to enjoy an influx of Hispanic people who’ve brought their food and culture for all of us to enjoy.

    I’m admittedly sensitive to what might be perceived as disparagement of my neighborhood. I certainly understand you mean no disrespect, but others who read your blog may not have your worldview and I felt the need to clarify, if only to make myself feel better.

    I’ve always held the opinion that all of Little Rock is my adopted hometown and I go anywhere I desire. I enjoy most the colorful and down to earth areas of town. If people would open their eyes, hearts and minds to the idea that just because the homes aren’t as large or well kept as Hillcrest, the Heights, Cammack Village, Pleasant Valley , Chenal or other such well-heeled neighborhoods, it doesn’t mean all the folks who live here are “less than” or undesirable.
    That’s one of the worst forms of snobbery, and it serves no one well.

    Thanks so much for stepping out or your geographic comfort zone and for sharing with your readers one of the jewels of Southwest Little Rock! Feel free to e-mail me or FB message me and I’ll tell you about a few other Southwest treats you may like to check out!


    • Kyran says:

      Thanks for the broader context. Your comment sent me both to my map and my dictionary, as I wouldn’t have thought “inner city” was off in either tone or geography, but both show up the fact that I don’t leave Midtown much. Which was what I was making fun of in the post. I’m as much a gawky tourist in the gated communities of West Little Rock, believe me. 🙂

  6. So true on the football menu. I liked this post, it was like a little treasure hunt 🙂

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