Lupita's doesn't measure up | Eat Arkansas

Lupita's doesn't measure up




Of all the various cuisines that are available in Little Rock, my wife loves Mexican the most. Our most recent experience with Mexican was less than stellar, so I felt like I owed it to her to try again and see if we could find a Mexican joint that would fulfill her cravings. To that end, we headed up Cantrell Road to Lupita's, a small, blink-and-you-miss-it Mexican joint that seemed at first glance to be just the sort of place we were looking for. After eating there, all I can say is...I'm sorry, Jess, better luck next time.

A meal at Lupita's starts with a basket of chips and three separate dips: a smoky chipotle salsa that we found thin but passable, a habanero salsa dotted with avocado and cilantro that was quite nice, and a bowl of the thinnest, most tasteless queso into which I've ever dipped a chip. It's perhaps unfair to complain about something that comes to the table at no charge, but I promise that a six year old could make better queso with a jar of Cheez Whiz and a microwave.

The menu is divided into two sections, a "traditional" Mexican section and an "American" section. From the Mexican half, we ordered a chicken chimichanga (a dish more of the American Southwest than anywhere) and a hard shell taco (again, not all that authentic). From the American side, we went for the most American food of all: a foot long hot dog covered in chili, cheese, onions, mustard, slaw and jalapenos. My hope was that the mixed menu would be so good that I'd have a place to grab a burger or BLT when the wife wanted chalupas — and we could both be happy. No such luck.

The chimichanga was attractive in appearance, with a crisp, golden brown exterior covered with a cheese sauce that was world's better than the thin stuff we started with. On the inside, however, things fell apart, with wads of spongy, pre-cooked chicken swimming in a tasteless mix of beans and onions. Flavors were muted, uninspired, and completely limp. The hard taco was much the same, with some flaccid ground beef sitting listlessly in a stale, oily shell with only a smattering of iceberg lettuce and some pre-shredded cheese as companions. In a town where slow-cooked tacos al pastor and cabeza are available for around a buck, charging three dollars for this sub-Taco Bell taco was an insult.

The foot long turned out to be the highlight of the meal, although it didn't have to try very hard to do so. A couple of well-grilled dogs were nestled on a toasted bun and then piled high with chili, slaw, peppers, and onions. The dogs were tasty, and the chili was pleasantly spiced — a nice change from the bland food we had otherwise. The dish can't quit be considered a success, though, since the piles of coleslaw layered on top overwhelmed everything else, making the bun a soggy, inedible mess before we were more than four bites in.

With the multitude of great Mexican options across the city, I don't really see how a place like Lupita's can open up with such apathetic food, nor do I see a reason why the Mexican-craving masses should waste their time and money here. Cheaper and tastier options are available, whether it's authentic cuisine you're looking for or something more like Tex-Mex. Lupita's was a disappointment, which makes me 0-2 for Mexican of late.

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