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La Regional No. 2

We know we're lowbrow, but this reporter's favorite place for lunch in the whole, wide world is the little restaurant inside La Regional, a Latino-owned grocery store down on Baseline Road in Southwest Little Rock. Walk past the long aisles of strange fruits, big bottles of vanilla and Mexican cookies, find a Formica table among the blue-collar guys watching Spanish-language soap operas on the TV bolted near the ceiling, and you will soon be eating the best tacos and burritos in the known universe. The problem for us is that Baseline Road is a haul from downtown where we work, and not quite do-able for lunch unless we're in the neighborhood already. That's why we were so stoked to hear about the opening of La Regional No. 2 in the Pike Plaza shopping center in North Little Rock. The restaurant there is almost identical to La Regional No. 1, down to the menu and decor. On a recent visit, we tried our old fave: the chorizo tacos with lime, white onion and cilantro, and found them just as fine at No. 2 as they are at No. 1: fresh, warm tortillas, stuffed with flavorful cheese, veggies and chorizo, all dripping with that nuclear-red grease that tastes like love. Our friend tried the chicken quesadilla and declared it similarly tasty, with big chunks of spicy chicken and thick cheese, served with the best rice and refried beans imaginable. We also liked their very tasty white cheese dip, which may be an addition from the menu at La Reg No. 1. After our very-filling lunch, we made room to stop by the traditional Mexican smoothie bar in the back of the store for one of their delicious fresh-fruit frappes: papaya, heavy on the vanilla. Best, we ate like starved lumberjacks but got out of there — smoothies and all — for right around $20. While Pike Plaza might seem like a long way from downtown, it's definitely doable for lunch once you get the route down. We'll definitely be back, and soon. 2630 Pike Ave., N. Little Rock, 246-4163. BLD daily. $ No alcohol.

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