I've been thinking hard on Taco Pronto since the end of December, when Grav and I were doing some Hot Springs area stories and stayed at the Hampton Inn behind the place. Our plan to visit one evening was disrupted by a strong thunderstorm that discouraged us heading out to give the place a shot. Though I've been back to Hot Springs since, opportunity to try the place had been sparse.
But Saturday night we were already in town to deliver new Arkansas ornaments to the All About Arkansas store that features Grav's work. With nothing else to do and hunger growing in our bellies, we decided hey, let's go try that little place down Central Avenue.
The prices are still butt-cheap, still comparable to other fast food restaurants. All the expected favorites are there - burritos and tacos and tamales and enchiladas. Taco Pronto's one claim to fame lies in its Cheese Crisp, which I will get to shortly.
We arrived and entered and stared at the menus on a post in the center of the restaurant, quietly conversing between each other. We do this a lot. We talk about what we're going to get and share so we don't duplicate - so we can sample more on less. This didn't look to be a problem, though, since everything looked really cheap. Our choices made, I went and ordered a chili and cheese covered combo burrito, a soft taco, a chicken cheese crisp, an order of refried beans, a side of tortilla chips, a Coke and a glass of water, which ran all of $22.33.
We'd ordered a tableful of food. I debated momentarily whether to return the Mexican rice that was supposed to be refried beans, but there was now a line and I was hungry and there was food to shoot. And away we shot.
And Grav was doing the same with his burrito, griping all along that no, he never really cares for chili and cheese on anything, that's a thing I like, and I heard him wrong but by golly he's going to eat this burrito. And he does.
It all feels sorta there, like the sort of meal you eat when there's nothing else in the market but you need a bite, until I got to the chicken cheese crisp. And, I don't know, I just really dug it. Fried tortilla with melted cheese and jalapenos and strings of chicken breast. I wished at that very moment that I hadn't ordered anything else, because that crisp was all I wanted. All I wanted.
I suspected at that moment that this singular item, added to low prices, is what kept this place afloat all these years. I wanted a version of it without the jalapenos and chicken but with chunks of apple on it. I re-evaluated my life choices and made peace with them.
Grav? Wasn't so fortunate. I knew he'd been sensitive in the previous days but that burrito was not his friend. And while I was lauding the crisp on the way home he was lamenting that burrito. Never again, said he. Will order again, said I.
Well, we're allowed to disagree.
Taco Pronto keeps a pretty steady clientele, and it looks like one of those great places to go when your budget is tight and you have a crowd. I kinda want to go back and try a Pronto Burger so I can compare it to the Taco Rio Burger, but that may be a little while in coming.
You'll find Taco Pronto at 4350 Central Avenue in Hot Springs. For more information, call (501) 525-7309 or check out the restaurant's website.
If you're looking for another option for Tex-Mex and want my suggestion, go with Taco Mama.