With an influx of Mexican nationals and immigrants through the 80s, 90s and into the 21st century, a second wave of Mexican cuisine has crashed over our state. These authentic flavors and family-tradition recipes have given a completely separate crop of flavors hold here in Arkansas.
But still, there is a certain camp of folks who believe there's little to no difference between the tortillas, fajitas and quesos from one Mexican restaurant to another. For those folks, I challenge them to try El Zarape in Fort Smith.
We were just musing over corn and such when one of the MANY
We decided to begin with an appetizer and settled on stuffed jalapenos. These four bombs arrived at our table on a bed of mango-jicama slaw,
perched horizontally with a light drizzle of crema on top. Grav bit into one and immediately went for the water, his face flushed. I tried one and immediately sensed great savory flavors in the chicken and cheese within, followed by a punch of jalapeno fragrance that went right to my nose. It was heady and immediate.
I had dithered with the idea of a chile relleno stuffed with ground beef,
We dithered again over dessert. I saw sopapillas on the menu, which I adore but Grav does not... I also noted the pecan cheesecake, which I knew he'd go for. We first settled on sharing a flan, but after hearing
All the time we were there, we were attended to. One of our waters, Eduardo, insisted we had to come back again... to bring some of Grav's smoked meats in for him to try. Others provided us with questions, containers and attention... far more than we're used to receiving.
El Zarape could be overlooked easily, considering the multitide of both authentic Mexican, Tex Mex and Ark Mex offerings in Fort Smith. But it shouldn't be. It should be cherished.
Now, you've seen our photos. You really need to go to this Facebook album and see the photos El Zarape has of many of its menu items. It's rare to see a restaurant doing great food photography like this, especially at El Zarape's low price point.
8909 Rogers Avenue
Fort Smith, AR 72903