Like almost every other living, breathing human being in Little Rock, we anticipated the opening of Local Lime Tacos & Margaritas like kids waiting for Christmas. And when the restaurant finally flung open its doors, with wide eyes and watering mouths, we curiously explored the menu and the surroundings. And here’s our verdict: Local Lime Tacos & Margaritas is like nothing Little Rock has ever seen (or tasted) before.
Situated in the Promenade at Chenal, just opposite the Chenal 9 movie theater, Local Lime was conceived by the masterminds behind Big Orange — John Beachboard, Herren Hickingbotham and Scott McGehee. For this venture, Ben Brainard joined the mix as well.
Like at Big Orange, inventive cuisine and a distinctive aesthetic are the hooks here, bringing diners back again and again. A spacious bar — covered in reclaimed wood and crowned with a stuffed steer head — serves as the dining room’s centerpiece. Tequilas and exotic liquors line the shelves, and a large margarita machine sloshes the frozen version of the restaurant’s house margarita.
Beyond the bar, soft white leather booths beckon you to sit, take off your coat and stay awhile. Dark-stained wooden tables are adorned with succulents and bottles of hot sauce. The far right wall is exposed reclaimed brick, emblazoned with a larger-than-life, hand-painted Local Lime logo. And we can’t forget the covered, heated/cooled patio that just begs for a pretty spring afternoon or a sultry summer night. To us, the décor is a perfect blend of rustic and urban — rustic chic, if you will.
We had high culinary expectations for Local Lime, but even our grand expectations were exceeded. There are six salsas to choose from, and you can order a trio of them with chips for a mere $2.50. Let us take the guesswork out of it for you. Definitely order the cool, creamy Zucchini, the slightly sweet Mango Papaya and the piquant Verde Tomatillo.
When it comes to inspired cocktails, Local Lime delivers every time. But if you’re looking for blue Curacao, you’re in the wrong saloon, mister. Drinks are made from all-natural ingredients and juices and high-quality liquors. The Local Lime house margarita is delish, as is the Local’Lite, a 125-calorie option that packs the same flavor punch but is sweetened with Truvia.
If you’re looking for something really off the beaten path, order the Pisco Sour cocktail. This beauty features Barsol Pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, egg whites, soda water and Peruvian bitters. A little birdie told us the eggs used for the egg whites are infused with lemon zest to give the drink its flavorful – and pretty – garnish.
There are seven small plate options to choose from, our favorite of which is the Market Corn ($6.50 and worth every penny). This plate is the answer to that oft-pondered question, “What would you choose if you had to eat one thing every day for the rest of your life.” I promise you, this is it. Local Lime grills a cob of corn and then slathers it in Mexican crema, cotija cheese, cilantro and chili powder. We’ve never tasted anything like it—simply divine.
Taco options range from tame choices like Grilled Chicken, Beer-Battered Fish and Grilled Ancho Chili Shrimp, to more exotic options, including Local Carnitas or Chorizo, and Barbecue Pork Belly. For vegetarians, there’s the flavorful Potato Zucchini taco. A plate includes three tacos and two sides ($10.50-$12), or tacos may be ordered a la carte ($3-$4). The Local Carnitas is our taco of choice. The meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender, the spicy-sweet flavor enhanced by the pickled onion and red pepper crema.
Another standout plate option is the Chicken Mole Enchiladas. If you’ve never given mole a shot, now’s the time. Grilled chicken and jack cheese enchiladas are topped with Local Lime’s house-made mole sauce, which is rich, creamy and just the right amount of chocolate-y.
If you still have room for dessert, the 3 Rums Tres Leches cake is hands-down the best Tres Leches we’ve ever had. Served cold with a brandied cherry on top, the Tres Leches is so smooth it’s almost custard-like, making it the perfect finale to an already-amazing meal.
17815 Chenal Parkway | (501) 448-2226 | LocalLimeTaco.com
Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. — 11 p.m. | Friday & Saturday: 11 a.m. — midnight