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What's cooking/Capsule reviews June 15



What's cooking

Sushi lovers, Hanaroo Sushi Bar on West Capitol Avenue downtown is offering a “Make Your Own Sushi” special on Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. Would-be sushi makers can learn a few tricks from the sushi chefs as well while they mix their fish, rice, avocado and so forth.
Also, Hanaroo offers beer and wine. The phone number for the restaurant, across the street from the Bank of America building, is 301-7900 and it’s open Monday through Saturday for lunch and Tuesday through Saturday for dinner.

Mi Ranchito, a Tex-Mex restaurrant, has opened at the site at Market Place in West Little Rock where the El Alcapulco chain had a location. It opened last week.

Capsule review

UPDATE: EL PORTON We’ve enjoyed the El Porton Little Rock location for several years, and this reviewer was delighted to have one open recently on our side of the river, North Little Rock. We let the dust settle before visiting this location, which opened in February. Dare we go at 6 p. m. on a Friday? If you tried this at the Little Rock El Porton, you’d have a long wait. But we only waited 15 minutes before being seated at this locale. There is a covered porch/patio out front and we had an option of taking a table there. We couldn’t quite juggle the idea of a nice patio, breezy setting and the constant roar of U.S. Highway 67/167 just a stone’s throw away, so indoors we stayed. The interior is bright and colorful, with lots of outside light from the many windows (unlike its dark, cavernous sister in the strip mall in Little Rock). The decor is a Mexican theme, but low key. We ordered the white cheese dip and drinks, all brought quickly with chips and salsa in tow. Combo No. 18, with its beef burrito, beef taco, rice and beans for $7.50, filled one in the group. It’s a kind of a standard but tried-and-true meal. Another ventured to the pollo con vegetables — a grilled boneless chicken breast, marinated in El Porton’s special house sauce, with beans, rice and steamed vegetables, for $9.95. The chicken was plentiful, but we found it too light on the seasonings. Yet, we’ve had some fiery experiences at El Porton. We’ve had the fajitas before and steer away from them here. And the salsa. And go light on the cheese dip. Unlike other Mexican restaurants that might cater to the more gringo side in us, El Porton pumps up the heat in these dishes, leaving us with burning lips and a lingering burning tongue that’s hard to put out. We’ve had children take a small bite and cry in pain and give you that look of “are you trying to kill me?!” At this location, you might have a problem too if you are in a large group trying to stay seated together. Most of the seating is in unmovable booths with tables anchored to the wall. There are only six movable tables with four chairs each. Or, of course, you can go out on the patio. 5021 Warden Road, NLR. $-$$. CC. Full bar. 753-4630. LD daily.

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