by David Koon
Leo Delgado, who took over as chef at Juanita's three months ago, plans roll out an improved menu to the public next week. Delgado said the menu will be at least 90 percent new, with fresher ingredients, daily preparation of everything in-house, more attractive presentation of dishes, and updated recipes.
Juanita's moved to new digs at 614 President Clinton Ave. last year. Before that, the restaurant had been on South Main St. since 1986.
Delgado spent 14 years working in Tex-Mex restaurants in Dallas before moving to Little Rock. He said that he has "basically remodeled the kitchen" at Juanita's, and has spent a lot of time on the dishes that will appear on the new menu. He said he was waiting until after the Riverfest rush to make the menu change because the kitchen staff will have to be retrained.
"The new menu that is coming out is new recipes," he said. "It's the same kind of Tex-Mex and sauces [as before], but it'll be different ingredients. We're trying to improve every single thing."
Some of the changes Delgado mentioned during our brief phone conversation today:
— Improved salsa and guacamole recipes
— Family platters
— New lunch plates, including sandwiches and lighter offerings.
— Baby back ribs
— Charro beans (a hearty, spicy, vegetable-heavy dish built around pinto beans)
"Everything that we make will be made fresh daily," Delgado said. "We're not holding pre-made food. We'll do everything fresh and prep every day. With our guacamole and chips and salsa, we changed the whole recipe, improved the cook on the chips. They're very good."
"It's pretty much like opening a new restaurant," Delgado said. "It's pretty exciting, and I know people are going to love it."
We'll get down to Juanita's next week and report back on their new offerings soon.