Today I found my very own version of taco heaven, in a little Mexican grocery called Del Campo a la Cuidad (“From the Field to the City”). Located over on a corner of University and 65th Street, this neat spot is cranking out some of the tastiest and most authentic Mexican food I’ve had in Central Arkansas. In fact, I’m laying down the gauntlet and telling you that these, yes these, are the very best tacos in Little Rock. Go get you some. Prove me wrong. Here’s what you should check out.
When you get to Cuidad, walk in past the meat counter and you’ll see a small register on the right, with little plastic wrapped plates showing off some of today’s items. There is also a big homemade menu board above you, that lists out a long list of gordita, taco, quesadilla and burrito options, including several other specials. Note that some items are only available on certain days … rice soup on Mondays, menudo on Saturdays, mole Tuesdays, etc. (I tell you, I can’t wait for next week to come back and try some of those specials. I’m hitting up that Menudo this Saturday.)
There are two ladies that run the restaurant. I said I wanted to order some tacos and they asked me how many I wanted. I said four, I mean, you can’t go wrong with tacos, right? She said that was a good number. You have quite a list of choices for your taco fillings:
- Chicharron (deep fried pork skin)
- Rajas (roasted poblano peppers)
- Huevos (eggs)
- Papas (potatoes)
- Pollo (chicken)
- Frijoles (beans)
- Suadero (pretty close to the brisket area of a cow)
- Asada (grilled beef)
- Pastor (grilled marinated pork with pineapple)
- Carnitas (pulled pork)
- Buche (pig stomach)
- Lengua (tongue)
- Barbacoa (barbecued beef)
- Chorizo (spicy sausage)
I ordered the lengua, barbacoa, chorizo and pastor. She picked the pastor for me and asked me if I wanted beans and rice with that. Trust me on this: double the beans, skip the rice.
It will take about 7 or 8 minutes or so for them to make your lunch. It’s worth it. Wander around the store a bit and check out those pastries, and cold drinks, and Mexican cheeses, and big bags of chilies, and fresh meats, and ripe fresh fruits. It’s a big wide world in here, and lots of cool things abound. There’s a definite theme of chili in the snacks. They don’t mess around here.
I pulled a Mexican Coke from the counter and sat down to eat. (There’s a bottle opener attached to the drink cooler on a long string.) My plate was full, with four tacos, Mexican rice, cheese covered refried beans, three or four lime slices, and a big charred jalapeño. They’ll also bring you two bottles of their homemade salsas, the green one is tomatillo based and the orange one is a spicier pepper. It didn’t have the zing of habanero, but I did see in the cooler a bunch of bright orange chili peppers that I had never seen before, and suspect that’s the secret ingredient.
The tacos come on these beautiful handmade white corn tortillas. They are just perfect all by themselves, but instead, they come filled with delicious grilled meats! I’m a big fan of the four I had. The lengua is really tender individual chunks of beef. The barbacoa is rich and deep and has lots of crunchy bits where it toasted a bit on the plancha.
The chorizo is rich and spicy and loaded with flavor
The pastor is the easy intro: just a classic porky, crunchy, sweet from the pineapple taco.
The rice was plain jane for me. Nothing I needed to have again, so I think you should skip it. But oh man, those refried beans. They have the creamiest, beany base with nice soft chunks of pinto bean mixed in. I sure hope you’re not afraid of a little lard, because these svelte beauties have at least a spoonful tucked away somewhere. The beans don’t have any spice in them, and have just a tiny bit of salt. I thought they could have used just a little more pow and so I hit them with the lime juice. I bet that a little more salt would take these over the top. Salt or not, without a doubt these are the best refried beans I’ve had in Little Rock. So double up when you order lunch.
When you’re done, you can toss your trash in the big brown container in the middle of the store. Maybe go pick up one or two of those delicious looking Mexican pastries.
Or maybe some of those gorgeous chilies.
Or a scoop of cumin seeds!
Or some cinnamon sticks!
Or some tamarind!
Or even some of these perfect fruits.
And perfect vegetables.
This would be the place to stock up for your next Mexican fiesta. They carry lots of sombreros, boots, and really intricate piñatas.
I had a great time over at Cuidad, and will come back regularly. The food was the highest quality, and the meats, fruits and vegetables were beautiful. And one can’t have too many chili snacks.