I have to admit, when I moved to the Cabot/Beebe area, I wondered where I would find good, flavorful Mexican food. The first couple Mexican-style restaurants I tried left me craving seasoning. Then, a work colleague and I tried Casa Mojitos.
I had found my local Mexican eatery.
The first test of a Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant is the quality of salsa brought to the table. If the salsa tastes of canned tomato or, even worse, salsa from a jar, it is a pretty good signal that the food won't be up to par. Luckily, I was very pleased with the salsa brought to our table.
The next text is whether or not the protein served is properly spiced. Too often, in the Cabot/Beebe area, I had been served ground beef lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, and nothing else. The chicken would often be boiled chicken, pulled from the bone with no extra spices. The meats at Casa Mojito didn't have those issues. Proteins are well seasoned and flavorful.
My last visit to Casa Mojito was on "guy's weekend," a three day father/son weekend filled with swimming, sports movies, and local restaurants. That Sunday night (the last night of our bro time), we went to Casa Mojito and I saw my son eat more food than I've ever seen him consume in one sitting. He loved his burrito, rice, and beans. Rarely does he clean a plate, but this plate was clean.
The only downside to Casa Mojito is where it is located. While Beebe is a fine town, it is in White County which is, unfortunately, dry. No Mojitos are served at Casa Mojito. No margaritas. No beer. No big deal on a guy's weekend with the kiddo, but a little disappointing when you're looking for a date night spot with your significant other.
You can find more information on Casa Mojito on their Facebook Page.
Two words: Fish Tacos.
When I'm craving them (which is often), I want to be at Las Fajitas in Bella Vista. Perfectly seasoned fish with a wealth of slaw and tomatoes and sauce. They are exactly what I think of when I think of fish tacos. These aren't a battered, fried fish chopped. Instead, they're seasoned, seared, and placed at the bottom of flour tortillas before being topped by all the other goodness.
Plus, they're served with rice and beans that aren't the standard, run of the mill, Mexican rice and refried beans. The rice is a light, fluffy white rice with a few vegetables thrown in, and the beans are slow cooked in a delicious, meat filled gravy.
As for the rest of the menu, the salsa is flavorful, without that "out of a jar/can" flavor that I abhor. The meats are well seasoned with obvious care, and the large beers are an affordable way to get all you need.
Las Fajitas also offers live music some nights of the week in a bar area that is separate from the main dining. It gives you the ability to either enjoy your meal in a booth or at a table in peace or to go in, sit at a table or barstool and enjoy a live performance. I can't say enough good things about this little gem of a place in Bella Vista. For more information, here is there Facebook Page.
If you've been around Memphis for any amount of time, you've seen Pancho's cheese dip. If you didn't try the Pancho's cheese dip that you saw, you missed out on one of the great treats along the border of Arkansas and Tennessee. While I'm sure the person exists, I've never actually heard someone say they don't like Pancho's.
That said, as often as I've eaten the dip, I'd never tried the restaurant. So, since I was in the area (and since it just happened to be Cinco de Mayo), my son and I decided to stop in and give the menu a try.
When they brought cheese dip out with the salsa (without us having to ask for it), I knew we were in the right place.
Warm chips. Cold salsa.
And cold cheesedip?
We were a little surprised that the ramekins of cheese dip served to us were delivered straight from the cooler to our table, but after tasting it, we decided that cold Pancho's was better than most other cheese dips and we started getting our orders together.
The boy opted for a quesadilla while I ordered a burrito as we watched the restaurant fill up with fellow Cinco de Mayo diners. My son, who is a bean and rice aficionado, gave Pancho's high marks for their fare while I ate so many chips smothered in cheese dip and salsa that I barely had the ability to lift my fork to go after my lunch. It is one of my biggest problems walking into a Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant. I fill up well before my meal shows up.
Despite being full, I managed to make most of the food on my plate disappear which left me stuffed as I waddled out of the door and back to the car. Driving while hungry always puts me in a bad mood. Driving while stuffed just makes me miserable. So, we left on our three hour journey a little worse for wear, but happy that we stopped.
Now, don't confuse Pancho's in West Memphis, Arkansas as the same as Pancho's Mexican in Fayetteville. While they share the same proper name, they aren't the same restaurant. However, as I looked over the Pancho's in Fayetteville's Facebook page, I think it deserves a visit soon as well.
Oh, and if you're outside of the West Memphis area and can't find Pancho's cheese dip at your local grocer, apparently you can order it online and have it shipped directly to your door! Sounds like a great gift idea (hint, hint).
David Thornton is a two time national award winning writer, chef, husband, father, and fitness enthusiast.