I never would have pegged Benton to be a hot spot for tacos, but between the authentic brick-and-mortar taquerias and tasty taco trucks, I'm changing my tune. I've had several requests from readers to visit another Benton taco truck, Baja Grill, and so to all those readers I say: thank you, because it's one of the best food trucks in Central Arkansas. Baja Grill bills itself as Mexi-Cali cuisine, and while I can't claim enough experience to vouch for its authenticity in that regard, I've put enough tacos in my face to say for sure that these are some of the tastiest and most unique around. They've also got a very nice setup of shaded tables arranged around the truck, a luxury that many of our food trucks in Little Rock don't have.
Since Arkansas is the land of cheese dip, we decided to start off our meal with a small order of Chips and Queso Blanco ($2.95) and were treated to a smooth, white dip that clung to the chips nicely. The queso itself was mild, but liberally spiked with chunks of diced jalapeno that gave it a nice kick. We were impressed that the chips themselves came out warm and crisp — something expected from a sit-down restaurant, but a nice surprise from the smaller quarters of a food truck. The queso wasn't anything ground-breaking, but it was tasty and made for the perfect meal starter.
When our tacos arrived, we were surprised at how large they were. The Baja Beef ($3.25) was a generous portion of tender shredded beef topped with cheese, cilantro, and some of the freshest tasting pico de gallo I've ever had. Having always preferred shredded beef in my tacos, I was pleased at the savory, slow roasted flavor of the beef and impressed with the way that the flavors all melded together to make each bite nicely balanced. This taco has a different flavor profile than your typical carne asada taco, but beef-lovers should still find a lot to love about it.
Even better than the beef taco was The Cuban ($3.25), a pork taco piled high with sour orange red cabbage-jicama slaw, avacado, cheese, and chipotle aioli. In addition to being one of the prettiest dishes I've ever had the pleasure to eat, the flavors of this taco were unlike any I've ever had with the rich, savory marinated pork complimented perfectly by the slightly crunchy slaw and a spicy sauce that was tempered by cool, creamy avocado. It took about three bites for me to declare it my new favorite taco. As with the beef, the pork was shredded, almost like pulled pork, and with a spice to it that was subtle but effective. It's a taco that walks the line between being good and almost too much, but the proportion of meat to topping keeps it busy but not unbalanced.
Our last dish, a Chicken Quesadilla ($5.25), wasn't nearly as impressive as the tacos but still tasty. It's a large quesadilla, filled with shredded chicken and loaded with melted cheese, and while it came out toasted perfectly from the grill, we really wanted some more spice to it. We realized later that this was partially our fault, as the menu clearly states that any of Baja Grill's toppings can be added to the quesadilla, something we missed when we ordered. The quesadilla does come with a side of pico de gallo and a cup of sour cream, so we didn't lack for means to add some flavor there at the table.
Having eaten at quite a few of Central Arkansas' food trucks, I'm always pleased when I find one that still manages to impress and surprise me, and Baja Grill certainly did that. The folks running the place were very friendly, and even though we were there during the Friday night rush, our orders came out quickly and were hot and fresh. The menu is one of the most unique around, and while we didn't get to sample the shrimp and fish dishes this time around, we've already promised ourselves that it's something we have to do soon. This is a food truck worth seeking out from anywhere in the area, and I highly recommend trying it the next time you find yourself in Saline County — and there's also a sno-cone stand next door if you need something cold to wash down your spicy tacos. Baja Grill is located at 1130 Military Road, and they're open from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for lunch and 5 p.m.-8 p.m. for dinner Monday through Friday.