Few restaurants in central Arkansas have been as hotly anticipated as Local Lime. I will openly acknowledge that I have not been immune to the hype surrounding this place. We were initially promised an opening “no later than Oct. 1,” but that date came and went and we had little more info regarding that promised day. I started to get a little fussy at this point. Yet after many sleepless nights, tossing and turning with tacos on the brain, Local Lime announced its arrival to The Promenade at Chenal. Needless to say, I was excited. All this enthusiasm over tacos and margaritas begs the question, “Does it actually live up to the hype?” The answer to that question, my friends, is simple: Yes, definitely. In fact, it largely exceeded my rather lofty expectations.
As the dinner crowds have been reportedly rather large, with waits quoted at up to 2 hours, we opted to stop in for lunch on a Saturday afternoon…no wait, grabbed a comfortable table on the patio. I was in my happy place.
The decent-sized menu at Local Lime starts with a selection of freshly prepared, housemade salsas, then there’s a handful of small plates, a group of starters and snacks for the table to share. Among these small plates you’ll find made-to-order guacamole, queso, Mexican corn on the cob, cerviche, and nachos. Entrees include a variety of taco plates which include three tacos and two sides, with each plate ranging between $9-12. Conversely, diners may opt to order any of the eight taco varieties a la carte for $3.75 a pop (certainly not the cheapest tacos in town). A trio of salads and a small selection of plated dishes such as grilled salmon, enchiladas, and bacon-wrapped shrimp round out the entrée section.
We began with the trio of salsas (which I highly suggest you do as well). Unlike most Mexican joints around town, salsa at Local Lime is not unlimited or complimentary. For $2.50 you’ll select three salsas from a list of six house-made options, served with a large bowl of thick and crispy corn chips. Our first selection, the “tres chilies” was a deep red-colored blend of pasilla, ancho, and arbol peppers with fresh garlic, charred onion, and charred tomato, finished with a sprinkle of queso fresco. The end result is an earthy, flavorful concoction with subtly sweet and smoky notes, perfectly complimented by the mild burn of the three pepper varieties. This was supposedly the “spiciest” of the house salsas, but I found it to be rather timid. The touch of queso lent a cool, creamy flavor to the salsa, making this an altogether wonderful start to our meal. The second salsa was a blend of roasted zucchini, green chili, cilantro, Mexican crema, and lime. This was finished with a topping of toasted pumpkin seeds. Again, we found this salsa to be highly impressive. The nutty pumpkin seeds paired with the crisp, acidic zucchini mixture was particularly refreshing. We were, thus far, very pleased with our selections. The “house tomato” was rather dull, however, by comparison. A mixture of tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeño, and cilantro, it was on par with salsas you’d see at most ordinary Mexican restaurants, not bad by any means, but not as exciting as our first two.