Late in 2014, Rosalinda Restaurante Hondureno moved from North Little Rock's Park Hill to North Little Rock's Levy, where it seems much more at home among the many neighborhood taquerias, restaurants and food trucks serving Central American food.
Though the low-slung brick building on 35th Street is only a block or so off Pike Avenue and the Levy exit off Interstate 40 practically dumps you onto the doorstep, it can be hard to find. (The first time we went looking for it we got very lost, and it turns out we actually passed it several times without realizing it. Signs on the building and the parking lot are now more prominent.)
The food at Rosalinda is Honduran, with perhaps a nod in the direction of Central American neighbors El Salvador and Guatemala. And while menu items have names that are familiar to Mexican food fans — tacos, enchiladas, burritos, carne asada, for example — they're not always in a familiar format. (There are regional differences, of course, even within Mexico.)
And there are many items you might know if you're acquainted with Latin American cuisine that you won't find on most Mexican menus, including platanos (plantains, first cousins to bananas), yuca (the sweet-potato-like cassava root) and pupusas, a sort of stuffed-crust tortilla pocket, Salvadoran in origin but also a staple of other Central American cuisines.
Rosalinda Restaurante Hondureno
Address: 900 W. 35th St., North Little Rock
Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Cuisine: Central American/Honduran
Credit cards: V, MC, AE, D
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Alcoholic beverages: Beer
A huge Honduran flag hangs on a wall in Rosalinda's entranceway. There's wood paneling on the walls of the dining room, which features standard metal-frame, black-vinyl-padded chairs around plastic-sheeted tables (making wipe-downs easy); a large flat-screen TV on the far wall is tuned to an all-"futbol" channel. An older model TV near the entrance was carrying, on a recent visit, a Spanish-dubbed version of Lake Placid, a 1999 frightener starring Bill Paxton, Bridget Fonda, Betty White and a monster crocodile.
The menu, which has expanded considerably since we first encountered the restaurant on Park Hill, contains clear English descriptions of the in-Spanish menu items. Though not always a good predictor of what'll hit your table, it's helpful because the proficiency in English of some staff members is pretty limited. (On our second visit, we wondered what the holdup was in placing our order — turns out the server, with whom we had some previous trouble communicating, was awaiting the services of a translator.)
Rosalinda's Pupusa de Queso ($2.25 apiece) is still at the top of our recommend list. An extended flour tortilla wraps a slightly sharp, very-much-melted cheese that oozes out of the wrapper as it's cut or bitten into. (Beware of picking it up to eat that way — oil from the oozing cheese can drip out onto your garments.) It's accompanied by a bowl of tangy slaw, which even the slaw-averse member of our party embraced, and a slightly soupy, warm, vibrant but not incendiary salsa, both of which complement the pupusa very nicely.
Other pupusa options: pupusa de chicharron (pork skins); pupusa de revuelta (pork, cheese and beans), both $2.25, and pupusa con jalapeno, $2.50. A single pupusa is pretty filling; you can certainly make a meal of two pupusas ($7.50) with either rice and refried beans or with a whole-bean-and-rice blend.Gallery: Rosalinda Restaurante Hondureno
We liked Rosalinda's guacamole ($5.50 small order, $8.25 large), but if you prefer yours chunky, garlicky or with a big spice kick, you might pass on it. It has a creamy consistency and while it's not bland, avocado dominates the flavor palate, with perhaps a touch of onion. Adding a couple of squirts of juice from the lime quarter on the plate gave it a nice lift. The small order was a lot for one and maybe even plenty for two; a large order ($8.25) would likely be enough to feed a family.
Rosalinda's chips are large and evidently made in house (corn tortillas fried and split into manageable triangles with curved edges — that's a good sign). Our server initially only brought us enough to accompany the thin, tasty but not fiery complementary salsa, but not extras for the guac, so we had to ask (waving an extra basket works in any language). The second batch was warmer, crispier and fresher than the first.
Rosalinda's menu is organized a little differently — there's no category for appetizers, for example; pupusas are listed under "platos de la casa" and guacamole and cheese dip are "antojitos" ("favorites").
Rosalinda's entree portions are enormous and an excellent value for the price. We took home half of our Pollo en Mole ($11), chicken breasts pounded flat and immersed in a dark, rich, savory mole, served with unusually flavorful rice, refried beans (a bit soupy, but with whole beans) and a side salad with an unidentified house dressing.
But we devoured with pleasure nearly everything on our Plato Rosalinda ($12.50), including the pounded-flat, surprisingly tender carne asada, the casamiento, the platano (a fried and sliced plantain) and even the avocado quarter.
Food came out of the kitchen hot and quickly. Service, communication concerns aside, was very good.
Weekend on 11/14/2019
Print Headline: RESTAURANT REVIEW: Rosalinda Restaurante Hondureno has found a recipe for success in North Little Rock