That glorious mess you see up there has been one of my favorite dishes of food in Arkansas since I was a teenager, first at the La Hacienda in Hot Springs, then at the La Hacienda in Benton—and most recently, at the La Hacienda here in Little Rock. Notice a pattern? I think the Oseguera family makes great tamales.

Growing up in Arkadelphia, eating out meant traveling half an hour up the road to the Spa City. It’s a little better down that way now, but when I was a kid, you were eating at Western Sizzlin’ if you ate anywhere (don’t even get me started on the Hamburger Barn). Hot Springs, with its sushi and Mexican and Cajun joints might as well have been another country in comparison.

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It was a high school girlfriend who first introduced me to La Hacienda, and although she didn’t last, my love for those tamales has only grown over the years. Tender, moist masa, spicy chopped pork, a thick red sauce and some of the best pico de gallo I have ever tasted make these tamales some of the best around. As a bonus, I’m not sure what sort of alchemy La Hacienda does with their refried beans (I suspect it involves lard), but they are the thickest, richest beans I have ever had at any Mexican joint across these United States.

The best part of the La Hacienda experience is that it is consistent. I’ve eaten at three versions of the restaurant (well, four if you count the late, great Casa Real on Rodney Parham), and I’ve been pleased with the tamales at every single location. They’ll offer to douse the things in cheese if you want, but don’t let them: that red sauce is what these tamales were meant to be served with. I love tamales of all sorts, but when I’m craving them, my sights turn to La Hacienda first and foremost—the three tamales for $8 or so is a deal that can’t be beat. 

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