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Top Picks - Arkansas Daily Deal

Selected restaurants

By The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This article was published October 7, 2010 at 3:41 a.m.

— Weekly theme listings reflect a range of dining possibilities in central Arkansas, across a spectrum of settings and price ranges. Restaurant reviewers’ visits are anonymous and all expenses are paid by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Bargain means a meal (without beverage or dessert) is typically less than $12. Moderate is $12 to $25. Expensive is $25 and up. To read recent restaurant reviews in their entirety, visit www2.arkansasonline.com/restaurants/.

Mexican/ Tex-Mex

CANCUN 105 Gregory Place, Jacksonville, (501) 985-3300 Lively business attests to the drawing power of an attractive and very Mexican operation with a gracious Hispanic staff serving an extensive menu of reliably standard fare.

Lunch, dinner daily. Full bar.

Reservations. Bargain.

CANTINA LAREDO Midtowne Little Rock shopping center, 207 N. University Ave., Little Rock, (501) 280-0407 The contemporary restaurant might not look Mexican in its decor or its upscale prices (guacamole for $9.49?), but the Little Rock outlet of the Texas-based chain delivers hearty south-of-the-border fare withflavor and flair.

Lunch, dinner daily; brunch Sun.

Full bar. Corkage fee. Reservations (eight or more people). Moderateexpensive.

CASA MANANA

6820 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, (501) 280-9888; 18321 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, (501) 868-8822; River Market, 400 President Clinton Ave., LittleRock, (501) 372-6637 The salsa dip and the guacamole are top-drawer at this no-nonsense Mexican place that excels at seafood dishes, including a garlicky Catfish al Mojo de Ajo, and offers a fine breakfast on weekends.

Lunch, dinner daily; breakfast Sun.

Full bar. (River Market: Breakfast, lunch Mon-Sat. No alcohol.) Reservations Mon-Thu. Bargain.

CASA MEXICANA

6929 John F. Kennedy Blvd., North Little Rock, (501) 835-7876; 13120 Crystal Hill Road, North Little Rock, (501) 812-2074; 4091 E. Kiehl Ave., Sherwood, (501) 833-2787 The North Little Rock location of the easygoing Mexican eatery still serves solid fare and swiftly, only now in a nicer, more accommodating space.

Lunch, dinner daily. Full bar. Bargain.

EL PORTON

12111 W. Markham St., Little Rock, (501) 223-8588; 5021 Warden Road, North Little Rock, (501) 753-4630 This popular Mexican restaurant offers a vast array of appetizers, soups and salads, burritos, vegetarian dinners, pork/beef/chicken dishes, enchiladas, grilled plates, seafood plates, fajitas and specialties that are served hot, fresh and fast.

Lunch, dinner daily. Full bar. Bargain.

LA HACIENDA

3024 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, (501) 661-0600; 12315 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, (501) 223-2716 The family-owned restaurant’s fast, fresh, efficiently served brand of authentic Mexican cooking hasinspired a cult following.

Lunch, dinner daily. Full bar.

Reservations (six or more people).

Moderate.

LAS PALMAS

4154 E. McCain Blvd., North Little Rock, (501) 945-8010; 3824 John F. Kennedy Blvd., North Little Rock, (501) 945-8010; 10402 Stagecoach Road, Little Rock, (501) 455-8500;

786 Elsinger Blvd., Conway, (501) 329-5010 Don’t miss the top-notch tamales on the huge menu of this Mexican restaurant, where service is swift and systematic and prices are low.

Lunch, dinner daily. Full bar at North Little Rock, Little Rock sites.

Reservations vary by location.

Bargain.

Weekend, Pages 40 on 10/07/2010

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