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story.lead_photo.caption Taqueria Amigos Mexican Restaurant in Jacksonville offers fajitas made with grilled strips of steak and chicken, peppers and onions. They are served with rice, beans and tortillas. - Photo by Rosemary Boggs

Central Arkansans with a hankering for good Mexican food may not automatically think of Jacksonville.

But think again, because Jacksonville is home to Taqueria Amigos Mexican Restaurant, a charming place open since January. It's a bit off the beaten path, but the town is small and the restaurant -- in a strip center across from the city complex and recreation center -- is just off U.S. 67/167.

Thankfully, road construction along 67/167 has died down a bit. But if it wasn't for the road construction many people would not have detoured past Taqueria Amigo in the first place. I was one of them.

An order of garlicky Camerones Al Mojo de Ajo at Taqueria Amigos Mexican Restaurant in Jacksonville is served with rice, beans, lettuce, sour cream and guacamole.

The exterior is unassuming. There is a colorful banner across the top of the building and a sign with the name of the restaurant and phone numbers. There's also one that reads "Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner." Big picture windows spread across the front. The dining area is filled with a variety of tables and chairs -- including booths, which are spacious and comfortable. Sombreros and serapes hang on the dark green walls.

There is also an overflow seating area. A football field is painted on one wall and televisions hang near ceiling height around the restaurant.

My companions and I went to Jacksonville on a recent warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. We found a booth and sat down to peruse the menu, which is not huge but offers a good selection of more traditional Mexican fare than the usual fast-food places. We ordered drinks and a large cheese dip ($6.99) to snack on while we decided what to order.

The thick cheese dip is the white style, with spices mixed in, but it's not too spicy. The chips were thick and crunchy, which is good because the dip was so thick.

Taqueria Amigos offers selections of meat that include chorizo, asada, barbacoa, chicken and tongue. You choose the dish and the meat you want.

Upon being seated at Taqueria Amigos Mexican Restaurant in Jacksonville diners are given a basket of chips and salsa. The chips are thick and crisp, the salsa tangy but not spicy.

It really didn't take long for the food to arrive once ordered. First were my nephew's fajitas with chicken and beef ($11.99). The meat was sizzling, steam was rising and the smell was irresistible. It was made with tender beef and chicken strips, peppers and onions, and came with tortillas (choose flour or corn). As with most entrees, refried beans and rice accompany it. The beans were smooth and not greasy, nor overly seasoned. The orange-ish rice didn't have discernible seasoning, but it tasted good.

Nephew two ordered a steak burrito ($5.99). He went without the toppings including sour cream, lettuce or guacamole. His only complaint was that they forgot the cheese and the ingredients inside the burrito were not dispersed well. It was hard to get a bit of everything in one bite. But the steak was tender and he ate it all.

I ordered a couple of dishes figuring we would try them and take the rest home. After the cheese dip I was already a bit full, but I did finish off a chorizo tostado ($3). It was made with a very thick and crunchy flat shell that seemed to have been fried in-house. It was topped with tangy chorizo sausage, lettuce and a dab of crema and was delicious.

I also enjoyed the Camerones Al Mojo de Ajo ($11.99), a delicious dish of shrimp usually tossed in a somewhat oily garlic sauce. At Taqueria Amigos it was made with medium shrimp tossed with finely diced garlic. Some were overcooked but overall the shrimp had a smooth garlic flavor that was not overpowering. It also came with rice and beans, but after the meal I realized they had not brought out the tortillas that accompany the dish.

As for their guacamole, it was more chopped avocado, onion and tomato than a creamy mixture many of us are used to. It didn't look like guacamole either, but I was surprised at how flavorful it was.

Lastly we tried an asada quesadilla ($6.99), a large grilled tortilla filled with tender meat, cheese, peppers and lettuce, and even though it got soggy quickly on the bottom the flavor did not suffer.

As for alcohol, Taqueria Amigos offers beer and cocktails but not wine.

Taqueria Amigos Mexican Restaurant

Address: 96 Municipal Drive, Jacksonville

Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily

Cuisine: Mexican

Credit cards: V, MC, AE, D

Alcoholic beverages: Beer and cocktails, but no wine

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Carryout: Yes

(501) 983-2193

Weekend on 11/01/2018

Print Headline: Meet your Amigos in Jacksonville

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