I’m partial to good Mexican food, though I must say I’m more partial to those that are more American than authentic. We are blessed with a number of pretty authentic single unit Mexican restaurants in the area, and there were a number within a very short drive of where I used to work on the east side of Springdale. These are the types of restaurants where gringos like myself are uncommon, where you have to find the English speaking server, and you’re going to get asked “so is it your first time here?”, as if you’re entering uncharted territory.
Although I appreciate the chance to sample more authentic cuisine, it’s a little hard on my digestive system to sample dishes that are a more greasy (lots of lard), more spicy, and being heavy on fatty meats and light on the vegetables. For that reason, I seem to go to Chipotle, or places like it, that aim to combine healthy ingredients, freshly made, in a nutritious and reliable way. Therefore, I’m excited to try Tacos4Life, which seems to aim to be that type of a restaurant. And they are largely successful.
They offer a very broad menu, given that you can choose a protein (chicken, beef, pork, seafood), have it on one of four style of taco or wrapped in lettuce, and have a choice of sides that is beyond beans and rice. I was a in a chicken mood, so I wanted to try just the basic grilled chicken on a flour taco and the southwest grilled chicken on a puffy tortilla shell. My cashier helped put that together, and suggested I substitute Mexican cream-style corn for rice, at a supplement of 75 cents. It was a great recommendation, since it was the most enjoyable of all that I tasted.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed the plain taco much more than the puffy one. The flavors of the plain taco were well mixed with the chicken, and were overstuffed to the point of seepage on the metal tray you are provided. It’s how a taco should be, but don’t try to eat one while driving. Rest easy, I was at one of the long community-style tables. The other taco was not as pleasing, since the southwest dressing and other ingredients really covered the taste of the chicken, to the point that I wasn’t sure if I was eating chicken or beef. The puffy tortilla was not the culprit, and was worth the extra fat and calories for variety’s sake. I was pleased to be able to add a Mexican soda, Jarritos-brand Tamarind, which are typically only found in single unit Mexican restaurants.
Though the food was really good, the service was a bit spotty. I introduced myself as a “first time” customer, which should have led me to be introduced to the frequent customer program by the cashier, but wasn’t. I asked one of the bus staff if there was such a program, and she eagerly guided me through the program, conveniently offered at an automated kiosk, much like when you go to Walgreens. I received both of my tacos in puffy shells, which wasn’t a big deal, though I kindly asked to have the order redone so I could try it as the cashier and I so carefully planned it. Having so many choices can be detrimental to efficiency: Chipotle purposely steers you into a simple burrito assembled with all of the ingredients in front of you for a reason.
The prices at Taco4Life are definitely at a premium, but so is the quality of the food. There is also a declared social mission, where your purchase of a taco or similar item drives a 22-cent donation towards a meal served through a charity in Honduras. It’s described in a full-color brochure that accompanies a separate menu leaflet.
Rating 3.5/5.0 – Liked it
1572 N. College Ave
Fayetteville, AR 72703