Next up on the tour is Taqueria y Carniceria Guadalajara, on Camp Robinson Rd in the Levy neighborhood of North Little Rock. When I first moved to this side of the river, I drove by this little hole in the wall a few times, wondering what it was like inside. I spent quite a few years in South Texas and I wondered if it could possibly compare to the taquerias I frequented there, but the constantly-packed parking lot soon convinced me to give it a shot. The rest is history. Guadalajara is now one of my favorite places around for quick, cheap, authentic Mexican food and a great experience.

Recently, I stopped in for a quick solo lunch. I have enjoyed everything I’ve tried on their menu, particularly the Bistec a la Mexicana ($6.29), a thin skirt steak they also sell pre-marinated in the carniceria, but I have a hard time straying from their tacos ($1.29 each). This time, I ordered two tacos al pastor, one chorizo and one carnitas. The server will ask if you want it “with everything.” You should always answer yes: this means it will be topped with chopped cilantro and white onion, on a warmed corn tortilla, with a big hunk of fresh lime to squeeze on top. They will also bring you tall squeeze bottles of their homemade salsa and salsa verde. The salsa rojo is spicy and perfect for beef but the verde is outstanding—fresh and tangy and they’ll even sell you some to take home in a big Styrofoam cup if you ask nicely.

I also ordered a michelada, which is best described as bloody mary made with beer, with lots of lime juice and not very much tomato. It’s tart and bubbly and a bit spicy and just delicious on a hot day. It will arrive in a big plastic goblet with a lime and spicy chile-flecked salt on the rim, made with your choice of the beer available from the grocery area.

I enjoyed my michelada while watching one of several large TVs strategically placed throughout the two rooms that make up the restaurant portion of the combination taqueria (taco shop)/carniceria (butcher shop)/panaderia (bakery)/grocery store. Usually, the TVs are tuned to Spanish-language music videos, often Tejano or conjunto bands. On this occasion, a World Cup game was on and the place was hopping. Every table was taken and every eye was glued to the game. I knew essentially nothing about the teams playing or professional soccer for that matter, but I enjoyed the cheering backdrop to my lunch.

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After your meal, be sure to visit the grocery next door for delicious sweet bakery items, fresh corn tortillas from Brenda’s Tortilleria in southwest Little Rock, produce—including limes that are only 3/$1.00—and a great selection of bulk dried chile peppers, beans, and hibiscus flowers. The carniceria not only sells the bistec beef, but also ribs, pork of various cuts, freshly made chorizo, Mexican style cheeses and crema and a decent selection of seafood.

Taqueria y Carniceria Guadalajara, 3811 Camp Robinson Rd.., North Little Rock, 501-753-9991. Beer available and credit cards are accepted.