Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
Rosalinda Restaurant Hondureño, the new Honduran restaurant in North Little Rock, is the real thing. If you're tired of the same old, same old Tex-Mex food (i.e., chimichangas, ground beef tacos, fajitas, nachos, etc.), but still crave those Latino spices, this is definitely the place for you.
Rosalinda opened its doors in September, and within a month and a half the place started packing folks in, both at lunchtime and in the evenings.
We brought our Honduran ex-neighbor along for our first visit only a couple of weeks after the restaurant opened, and from the start we were both impressed with their degree of authenticity. That shouldn't be a surprise, since the head cook, Rosalinda Santos, is native Honduran.
During our first visit, we tried one of the house specialties, Plato Rosalinda con Carne Asada, Casamiento, Platano y Aguacate (Rosalinda's steak, mixed rice and beans, plantains and avocado dish). This is an appetizing dish, the fried plantain slices mildly sweet. In the Pollo Frito con Tajadas de Platano (fried chicken with plantains), the plantain slices are cut into little medallions, and taste like fried corn. Either way, the plantains are scrumptious — and the fried chicken wasn't bad either.
One pleasant surprise during our second visit was a dish called Sopa de Camarones con Coco (shrimp in coconut-milk soup), which is reminiscent of a Thai dish. Our Honduran friend informed us that this soup originated in the northern part of the country, where the specialty is seafood. The soup is mouthwateringly delicious. In fact, we experienced a state of sensory overload while sipping this soup. A word of caution: If you decide to try this dish, tell your table partners to not speak to you while you're eating; you'll be too occupied savoring the soup.
For variety's sake, we decided to try the Tacos Hondurenos, which were refreshingly different from the traditional Mexican tacos and Tex-Mex tacos: The corn tortilla is rolled and deep fried (like with a flauta), stuffed with chicken and topped with thinly chopped cabbage seeped in fluorescent pink beet juice. We also tried the Pescado Frito, Casamiento y Tajadas (fried fish, mixed rice and beans, and sliced plantains), which was just delectable. And come to think of it, so was the Pollo Encebollado con Arroz, Frijoles y Ensalada (onion chicken with rice, beans and salad).
On our third visit, we tried the Yuca Frita (fried cassava, a potato-like root), which tasted, delectably, like fried chicken.
On subsequent visits, we plan to try the following dishes: Salvadorian Style Steak; Yuca Sancochada (steamed yuca), Tamales de Elote (tender corn tamales); Carne Deshilada con Salsa (shredded beef with salsa), and pupusas (hand-made corn tortillas filled with cheese, beans or ground pork). Pupusas are, technically speaking, not Honduran, but Salvadoran. But according to several Salvadoran acquaintances, Rosalinda Restaurant also happens to make the absolutely best-tasting pupusas in all of Central Arkansas.