Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.
We noticed Santo Coyote going into the old Firefall Grill location a few weeks ago and the “Mexican Food and Tequila Bar” sign piqued our interest. Would it fall into the same category as so many other Mexican eateries in Central Arkansas?
From the moment we walked in, we knew something was different. Santo Coyote doesn't look like a Mexican restaurant; it could pass for a steakhouse or a fusion restaurant.
The heavy leather-clad menu contained a wide variety of entrees: We found seafood and kebabs and even small plates among the expected chimichangas and quesadillas.
We went the Mexican route. Our guest chose the steak and cheese burrito ($10.75), a large almost overstuffed tortilla hidden away by a layer of sour cream, lettuce and tomato, next to a pool of charro beans (refried beans, we were told, spiced with chorizo sausage and bacon) and pile of rice. The chunks of steak were substantial.
We decided to try one of the decidedly different chicken offerings and went for the pollo tropical ($11), a selection of grilled chicken breast, poblano peppers, mushrooms, onions and pineapple served up with two sides and a big pile of freshly-made tortillas. The combination of poblano and pineapple and chicken was delicious. The sides were unusual — black beans swimming in their own liquid and a slurry of chipotle mashed potatoes. The beans were good, if a little salty, but the potatoes' strange sweetness didn't match the pepper flavor well.
We satisfied curiosity by ordering up the recommended el santo dip ($8): It's a bowl full of chicken, beef and shrimp drizzled with a small amount of cheese dip — not really a dip at all. It was tasty but somewhat difficult to eat, too runny for the tortillas that came with it, too heavy for the crunchy chips.
We returned to the traditional on a second trip, trying out the cheese dip ($3.95 small/$7.99 large), which was a little thin but better than average. The guacamole casero Mexicano ($6.95) was made fresh at tableside. We were thankful our server gave us the option on how much heat we would like. She substituted serrano peppers for jalapenos and expertly mixed the tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice and avocado to create a thick yet creamy concoction. Paired with the restaurant's sweet yet spicy salsa, it was perfect (though we would have liked a bit more salt in the guac).
Our guest chose the combination sizzling lunch fajitas ($8.99), and though they were not sizzling on arrival they were very hot, with big hunks of vegetables and meat. Better than average was the verdict.
We chose the not-quite-Mexican Pacifica trio sea wrap ($8.95) and were rewarded with a thickly-filled yellowish-green tortilla layered with mixed greens, a little pico de gallo and loads of shrimp, scallops and tilapia pieces. The roasted poblano dressing suited and the Mexican rice was a good addition.
The restaurant also offers sopes, corn cups filled with beans and other ingredients, and tacos for $2.50 each. Selections include skirt steak, chicken, marinated pork with pineapple, and beef brisket.
Desserts occupy a typical range — flautas, a flat sopapilla, cheesecake, chocolate cake. All are acceptable and run $3.50.
2513 McCain Blvd.
North Little Rock
The tequila selection is enormous. We're of the “one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor” persuasion, but our family aficionado soaked up the alcohol menu as if opening a welcome Christmas present. The margarita ($7) knocked us into our cups a bit — not the best we have had, but certainly drinkable and quite strong.
11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Full bar, CC