We’re big fans of Mexican food – the more authentic the better. We lived right down the street from Taqueria Azteca for a long time without sampling their food, a mistake we’re still kicking ourselves over because this humble taqueria has incredible food served up hot and fast. Located on Highway 5 in Benton, right across from Harps, the restaurant is always busy for lunch, something we always consider a good sign. The small vegetable plot out back is another good sign – any place that takes enough time and care to grow at least some of their ingredients is already a step up in our book. Taqueria Azteca has become one of our favorite places for takeout, and for those of you who prefer dining in, there is a small but comfortable dining area with booths. The staff is friendly and efficient, and there is a good variety of menu items, prepared fresh daily.
The menu is simple: a la carte items such as tacos, tortas, or quesadillas with your choice of meat. There are also taco, tamales, or quesadilla combos available (combos come with rice and beans) for $4.99 – an excellent value for lunch. Once you’ve picked what basic item you want (I always go for the tacos), you are offered a choice of several fillings: pork in red or green sauce, chicken, shredded beef, or my two favorites, beef tongue and a spicy pork and onions mix. Topped with a mixture of onions and cilantro, an (optional) sprinkle of cheese, the tacos are served up with lime slices and a tasty dried herb mix. Jess is a fan of the quesadilla, a grilled tortilla with cheese and choice of filling.
My favorite day to go for lunch is Saturdays, because Saturday is menudo day, and nothing is better on a cold day than a hot bowl of the spicy tripe stew. Taqueria Azteca’s menudo is cooked slowly, and the tripe is tender and lacks the strong flavor that sometimes make such dishes unpleasant to eat. The broth is spicy and rich, and I like to add a generous squeeze of lime juice to it along with the cilantro and onion mixture served up with all orders. Tripe is one of those things (like tongue) that many Americans shy away from trying; I urge everyone to try both if you go to Taqueria Azteca. Rest assured, though, there are plenty of options on the menu that will suit a palate raised on Tex-Mex.
We always want to promote local businesses on Arkansas Foodies, because it seems like today that many people would rather go for the bland comfort that comes with grabbing a bite to eat at the nearest fast food place. It’s understandable – you know what to expect with a place like Burger King or Taco Bell, but finding solace in mediocre food is akin to putting blinders on your tongue. A place like Taqueria Azteca is just as easy to get to as fast food, and the service is just as quick (and much friendlier), so I hope you’ll take our recommendation to give the place a try. They are open Monday-Saturday from 10-6. Enjoy!