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La Tapatia brings the heat 

With authentic Mex.

click to enlarge POLLO ASADO: The chicken is flattened, grilled and spicy, thanks to a homemade marinade.
  • POLLO ASADO: The chicken is flattened, grilled and spicy, thanks to a homemade marinade.

La Tapatia, on Stagecoach Road, announces itself when you walk in the door. There's a menu hanging above the counter that details the many varieties of meat one can stuff into a taco. The table covers are bright oranges, greens and reds. A cooler holds row upon row of chilled bottles of Jarritos, Coronas, Modelos and Miller Lites. The oohs and aahs that accompany a Spanish-language game show ring throughout.

It's a family restaurant. Son, daughter and mom work the front while dad mans the kitchen, arranging different combinations of beans, meat, cilantro, onions, lettuce, rice and tortillas on plastic plates and sending them out to be enjoyed. Efficiency is valued here: Service is prompt and food arrives quickly. Frills are not to be found. The guacamole ($4.49) is a good place to start. Consider carefully the question "Do you want jalapenos?" An answer in the affirmative will bring heat upon thy tongue, but in a good way. Avocados make a good complement to a hot jalapeno: The thick, dense texture helps to cool and soothe. The guac here is chunky; bits of onion and cilantro are heaped in. It's some of the best we've had, and it made a healthy appetizer for our table of three.

The chips at La Tapatia are worth a mention of their own. They're warm, crispy and thick. They can handle a heavy payload of guacamole or a healthy scoop of salsa. There are lots of doubled-over chips, which are as good as gold in our opinion. There's a sprinkling of salt, but not too much. The salsa they're served with is fresh, cool and vibrant. It's easy to eat more than you set out to, but give yourself a break.

Tacos come with a good bit of cilantro and onion, and range from $1.49 to $1.89, depending on what type of meat you choose. There are plenty of choices, including the safe options you'll find at any food truck: asada, pastor, carnitas, chorizo. And there are a few for the more adventurous, like beef intestines (tripita) and pork stomach (buche). They have borrego (lamb), too.

We tried three, including a campechano (a mixture of steak, pork and Mexican sausage), a pastor and a chorizo. They're bigger than bite-sized but still small enough to throw down a few in one sitting. We missed a bit of pineapple in the pastor — which we've had from other taquerias — but that's such a minor thing to pick at. Overall, the tacos are well seasoned and flavorful, and became even more so with a good shot of red and green salsa on top. If you're particularly hungry, pick four or five.

click to enlarge AUTHENTIC: La Tapatia is a family restaurant that serves everything from beef to beef intestines, pork to pork stomach. The sopes (above) get an extra kick from the red salsa.
  • AUTHENTIC: La Tapatia is a family restaurant that serves everything from beef to beef intestines, pork to pork stomach. The sopes (above) get an extra kick from the red salsa.

The Pollo Asado ($7.49), billed as grilled chicken served with rice, beans and salad, came highly recommended by our server. The chicken is flattened, grilled and spicy (read: hot!). The heat comes from a homemade marinade that kept us reaching for our water. Sandwiching the chicken in a homemade tortilla with rice and beans helped cool it down some, but ooh, boy. The flour tortillas here are good. They're hearty and warm. You have to give 'em a nice tug when you tear off a new bite.

Also highly recommended were the gorditas ($2.99 per). Our friend tried chicken and steak and we heard no complaints about either. They come in a crispy-on-the-outside, soft-in-the-middle masa-based shell that's been browned on the griddle. Inside you'll find refried beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato and a dose of sour cream. They're tasty, and the bready pouch makes them easy to eat.

For authentic Mexican dishes and great street tacos, La Tapatia is pretty tough to beat. The atmosphere is far from fancy, but that's a virtue here. The service is great and the price is right. Our table of three had plenty to eat and got out of there for under $40 (with tip, without alcohol). It's a great place for a quick, satisfying lunch or a low-key dinner when you just want some good tacos in your life.

Taqueria La Tapatia
8912 Stagecoach Road
501-455-2423

Quick bite

The sopes here are pretty great. We had one of the carnitas variety ($2.99). The meat was slow-roasted and tender, the lettuce was crispy and refried beans added heartiness. All sat on top of a homemade masa shell. Try the sopes with some of La Tapatia's homemade red salsa for an extra kick.

Hours

10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Other info

Beers by the bottle. Credit cards accepted.


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