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Top Picks - Capture Arkansas

Selected restaurants

By The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This article was published December 26, 2013 at 3:04 a.m.

Weekly theme listings reflect a range of dining possibilities in central Arkansas, across a spectrum of settings and price ranges. 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 arkansasonline.com/restaurants.

Mexican/ Tex-Mex/ Southwestern

CACTUS JACK’S 11414 W. Markham St., Little Rock, (501) 227-7556; 4120 E. McCain Blvd. (McCain Crossing shopping center), North Little Rock, (501) 945-5888 Locations of the accommodating restaurant mini-chain on both sides of the river serve ample portions with potent cheese dip and salsa.

Lunch, dinner daily. Full bar. Bargain.

CANCUN 105 Gregory Place, Jacksonville, (501) 985-3300 This lively business attests to the drawing power of an attractive and very Mexican operation with a gracious Hispanic staff that serves 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 Several flavorful items have been added to the menu of this upscale Tex-Mex chain, where there’s always a lively atmosphere.

Lunch, dinner daily; brunch Sun.

Full bar. Corkage fee. Reservations (eight or more people). Moderate-expensive

CASA MANANA 6820 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, (501) 280-9888; 18321 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, (501) 868-8822;

River Market, 400 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, (501) 372-6637 The salsa and the guacamole are top-drawer at the no-nonsense sit down locations.

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 This easygoing eatery serves solid fare swiftly.

Lunch, dinner daily. Full bar. Bargain.

EL PORTON 12111 W. Markham St., Little Rock, (501) 223-8588; 5507 Ranch Drive, Little Rock, (501) 223-8588; 5021 Warden Road, North Little Rock, (501) 753-4630 The menu offers a vast array of specialties, served hot, fresh and fast.

Lunch, dinner daily. Full bar. Bargain.

THE FOLD BOTANAS & BAR 3501 Old Cantrell Road, Little Rock, (501) 916-9706 This Riverdale hot-spot features upscale taco plates, ceviches and botanas (small plates) with a definite Southwestern kick.

Lunch, dinner daily. Full bar. Moderate-expensive

LA CASA REAL 11121 N. Rodney Parham Road., Little Rock, (501) 219-4689 The Alvarez family has moved and renamed a branch of La Hacienda (see below), retaining the best menu items and adding some new favorites.

Lunch, dinner Mon-Sat. Full bar.

Bargain.

LA HACIENDA 3024 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, (501) 661-0600 The family-owned restaurant’s fast, fresh, efficiently served brand of authentic Mexican cooking has inspired 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; 10402 Stagecoach Road, Little Rock, (501) 455-8500; 786 Elsinger Blvd., Conway, (501) 329-5010 This mini-chain offers a huge menu, swift and systematic service and low prices.

Lunch, dinner daily. Full bar at North Little Rock, Little Rock sites. Reservations vary by location. Bargain.

LOCAL LIME 17815 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, (501) 448-2226 The owners of nearby Big Orange use that formula for a superb Mexican/Southwestern menu.

Lunch, dinner Tue-Sun. Full bar.

Moderate-expensive.

NEW!!! TAQUERIA EL PALENQUE 9501 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, (501) 312-0045 Top-notch tacos and other authentic Mexican fare in generous portions.

Lunch, dinner Tuesday-Sunday.

Beer. Bargain.

Weekend, Pages 34 on 12/26/2013

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