Restaurant review

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Food at Camp Taco is good, but at a price

Camp Taco at Lost Forty

Address: 822 E. Sixth St., Little Rock

Hours: 11 am-9pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-10pm Friday-Saturday

Food: High priced tacos, brewery food

Credit card: M, V, AE, D

Wheelchair access: via a ramp at the back

Information: (501) 353-0884;;

Let’s start by saying that the food, beer, and service were all good at Camp Taco.

But – especially in a location that has failed to support two previous breweries – what are the long-term survival prospects in this market for another location that serves high-priced street tacos, albeit in an atmosphere? friendly, but noisy?

Camp Taco, Yellow Rocket Concepts’ latest venture, took over the former Sixth Street Brewing Co./Rebel Kettle at the west end of trendy East Village in Little Rock in October.

It’s only a block from Yellow Rocket’s Lost Forty, also a brewery, which, in a positive aspect, allows for a wider spread of the beers available in the neighborhood – which is flowing from some of the dozens of taps. Camp Taco come from its own kettles, some from Lost Forty.

Camp Taco’s Poblano Cottage Cheese Dip is large enough to serve two. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Eric E. Harrison)
For several weeks after it opened, it was almost impossible to enter, even at off-peak hours in most places; if you have a place to park within a block it was a hit. Now that the three month honeymoon at a new restaurant is over, we had no trouble getting a seat. Of course, single diners are automatically directed to the bar whether or not there are tables available – even on a Sunday afternoon when the place was virtually empty.

We never quite got to Sixth Street Brewing – it didn’t last very long – so we can’t tell you what the current decor is that is being kept, but the vanity is that you are in some sort of camp. sleep (“Check with your advisor,” the front panel says). Waiters, etc., all wear T-shirts with “Camp Taco at Lost Forty” on the front and “Happy Camper” or “Staff” on the back. (What’s the difference? Maybe the staff know; we sure don’t.)

There are three dining rooms; the one in the middle features the long bar (supported by dark green subway tiles and a clock that you shouldn’t count on for the correct time as it seems to work backwards) and facades on the brewery’s equipment . A front dining room is paneled and lit by Tiffany-style light fixtures with a real disco ball; there is also a screened patio. The soundtrack is pop-rock from the 60s and 70s. Your check arrives in the library pocket of a teen or children’s book (ours was via one of the “Goosebumps” volumes), as if it had been taken from the camp library.

The taco plates – two premium tacos, two sides – range from $ 11.50 to $ 14.50. The flour and corn tortillas are homemade. The ingredients are certainly, visibly and tastefully top of the range.

Photo Pastor Classico presented two classic al pastor tacos, a rice mix and Frijoles Mixtos. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Eric E. Harrison)
We remind you that we enjoyed what we ate, but you can get some fantastic street tacos at Mexican restaurants or food trucks for half or less.

For example, our Pastor Classico ($ 13), two tacos al pastor (grilled pork shoulder marinated with pineapple, onion and cilantro on corn tortillas) with green salsa and lime on the side. Yes, it came with two premium sides – a small serving of Frijoles Mixtos, a mix of black, red, and white beans and green lentils in a somewhat spicy broth; and a rice mixture – jasmine rice with diced carrots, peas, corn, poblano peppers and onions. Is that worth $ 8 more than a pair of al pastor street tacos from any nearby taco truck? Probably not.

Our two Quesabirria tacos ($ 14) – fried in corn tortillas topped with slow-braised beef, jack cheese, a pico poblano with a spicy chili-lime broth (also in a side mug for dipping) , were indeed delicious, but also drenched in oil – it wasn’t just the oily quesabirria we’ve had, but quite the oily tacos in our experience, so much oil it s ‘accumulated in the red and white checkered paper that lined the plastic tray and that we ran through a stack of towels and still had to go to the toilet (called “men’s latrines” in keeping with the atmosphere of the camp) to wash your hands of the rest.

We found one extremely good menu item that made our last visit worthwhile and would keep us coming back: the Mexican ramen ($ 13.50 for the “birria style” with slow braised beef, $ 12.50 for the vegetarian version. , topped with “adobo” mushrooms) – ramen noodles topped with birria, purple coleslaw, fresh avocado, sliced ​​radishes and marinated carrots, plus two halves of a hard-boiled egg topped with a “crunchy chilli “in a spicy chili, but not too spicy- lime broth. We would contrast this with any Asian ramen in the neighborhood for its flavor and filling (if that’s a word).

Photo Camp Taco’s front dining room decor actually includes a functional disco ball. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Eric E. Harrison)
And we can recommend the Poblano Cottage Cheese Dip ($ 7.50, and large enough to serve two), although it didn’t have much flavor until we mixed in the chopped Poblano Chilli Pico. It comes with a big pile of puffy homemade chips, some of which weren’t thick enough to withstand the flour-based dip.

We figured, since this is a brewery, that we must try one of the beers, so we went for the “Bottom Bunk” Dry Stout ($ 7.25 on tap, but only 6, $ 50 for a 32-ounce growler), a light and pleasant stout with a relatively low alcohol content (4.2% alcohol content) in a long, tall glass that goes well with ramen.

We mentioned that we had good service, and we did, from the bartender the first time around and the waiters afterwards – friendly, helpful and quick. We had to ask our busy waiter for extra towels for our oily quesabirria.