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Nacho's world 

Colorful Votanitas la moreliana simple, good.

click to enlarge VIVA CHORIZO: Tacos made with freshly grilled corn tortillas, spicy meat, onions and cilantro. (Brian Chilson photo)
  • VIVA CHORIZO: Tacos made with freshly grilled corn tortillas, spicy meat, onions and cilantro. (Brian Chilson photo)

Votanitas la moreliana looks out of place among the strip malls of the south end of Central Avenue in Hot Springs. Pulling into the drive, you almost feel like you've stumbled upon a tropical hut on the edge of some far-flung jungle. The structure itself is small but big on color: orange, purple, green and yellow. Singing sun figurines adorn the outer walls and a multicolored LED sign lets you know it's open for business. Out back, there's a taco truck adorned with a cartoon monkey and a near-lifesize likeness of the Virgin Mary. And it's all the brainchild of a guy named — no kidding — Nacho.

We were lured here by photographs of creative-looking food proudly posted to the eatery's Facebook page — corn on the cob dusted with crushed hot Cheetos, puffed-up fried tacos, and hollowed-out pineapples filled with ice cream, fruit, candy and syrup.

Ignacio "Nacho" Sanchez and his team, purposely or not, have created a distinct atmosphere inside the restaurant. Ceramic pineapples sit in the windowsills. A watermelon mobile reading "You're one in a melon!" hangs from the wall. The shapes of tropical fruits, painted near-neon shades of pink, purple, green, yellow and orange, are carved into the wooden tables and chair backs.

On the Saturday afternoon we visited, the restaurant was nearly full with patrons having lunch and watching the soccer match between France and the USA. A large family sat in the middle of the small dining area, passing around a big bowl of posole, the grandfather laughing and chatting with his grandkids. The family moved around the tables to accommodate us after we ordered.

The food is pretty standard taco truck fare, which is to say simple but good. In fact, the kitchen in the shop is reserved for storage and dessert prep. All other food is made to order on the taco truck parked outside.

There's a pretty extensive menu at Votanitas la moreliana. There are the standards like tacos, burritos, tortas and sopes, and some lesser-known items as well. The menu is mostly in Spanish, but servers are accommodating and more than happy to answer questions. They even let us keep our tab open so that we could continue to order more food if we wanted, which we did. Whatever you order can be customized with your meat of choice — chicken, carnitas, chorizo, pastor, lingua or steak.

We ordered several tacos ($1.50 each). The chorizo was a favorite. The spicy meat was served in a freshly grilled corn tortilla. Our server brought out a bowl of chopped onions and cilantro so that we could dress our tacos as we saw fit.

The sopes ($5 for two) came buried under a salad of shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and crema. We chose carnitas and pastor. The masa base was firm and crispy enough to pick up and eat with our hands, but we resisted the urge, fearing we'd make a mess of the toppings. Overall, the meats were flavorful, except for the steak, which was a bit dry.

click to enlarge FRESAS CON CREMA: Refreshing combination of strawberries and cream. (Brian Chilson photo)
  • FRESAS CON CREMA: Refreshing combination of strawberries and cream. (Brian Chilson photo)

Pictures of Nacho's dessert creations dot the wall, and we couldn't resist trying one. The fresas con crema (strawberries and cream, $5), is a huge cup of fresh strawberries, sweetened cream and condensed milk. It's weighty and comes garnished with a sugary pink wafer. Our first thought was, "We'll never be able to finish this." But we did. The dessert was heavy on the strawberries and, while rich, it was not as filling as we expected. We'd even call it refreshing.

If you fancy yourself any kind of taco truck aficionado, you've probably had food like this before. But going to Votanitas la moreliana is an experience unto itself — delicious, fun and colorful.

Votanitas la moreliana
3520 Central Ave.
Hot Springs
501-538-0918

Quick bite

Votanitas la moreliana is a place you could stop in for a quick, cold treat or sit a while inside or on the patio for lunch or dinner. The grocery section offers coolers full of popsicles and other frozen Mexican treats and plenty of chips and snacks. Try a refreshing agua fresca ($1.50). We opted for Jamaica, which is hibiscus-flavored and tasted to us like a mix of raspberry and grape juices. Votanitas La Moreliana also serves snow cones and will soon have a Mexican ice cream stand on the front patio.

Hours

10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Other info

No alcohol, credit cards accepted.
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