The first time I visited La Media Luna, I nearly missed it. Tucked in awkwardly behind a gas station's pumps, it's easy to overlook the blue bonneted square. But it was worth finding.
On my first visit in January, I was delighted to find it for an early lunch at the end of a research trip. I had stayed at the lovely Inn at the Mill the night before and was looking for some place close before making my final stops in Fayetteville and heading home. I had the usual Mexican restaurant expectations, which were quickly and happily burst by the eatery owned by Julio and Adrian Leonardo, who have brought flavors enjoyed in their family's community of Pachuca, Mexico to northwest Arkansas.
I also noted that white cheese dip was on the menu, right above guacamole and queso fundido - a melted cheese that could also be ordered with steak or chicken.
There was also the Chile en Nogada, a poblano pepper filled with pork, dried fruit and walnuts covered in pecan cream and pomegranate seeds - a real departure from the expected rice, beans and burrito fare so common at Arkansas Mexican restaurants.
But I'd been given the tip to try the stuffed avocados. Done well, they're delectable. Done poorly, and you have hot avocado and disappointment. I ordered the lunch portion (called the Avocado lunch) and was not disappointed. I was given the choice of several sauces for the dish, including a chipotle sauce, a hotter habanero sauce, cheese sauce or salsa verde; I went with the cheese. I certainly didn't expect a gorgeously prepared dish for $6.49, but that's what I got - a cylinder of herbed rice, a ramekin of refried beans, a spot of green salad topped with tomatoes, and the avocado - this lightly breaded and fried avocado delicately topped with cheese, a dollop of cheese dip running down its sides, and a small Mexican flag on a toothpick, stabbed into the top, all served o a black plate.
I sliced into the avocado, stuffed with steak, and found the combination of nicely seasoned beef, pliant avocado and cheese was both hearty and sumptuous. The crisp batter on the outside provided a lovely crust. The beans were a little softer than average, and the rice was properly seasoned, with notes of lime.
My quick pick-up on my next trip through solidified my previous thoughts on the restaurant. I didn't have time for a sit-down lunch before heading to my outdoor destination, so I called in an order and grabbed the La Media Luna Salad. I was not disappointed. On pickup, I was advised to toss the contents of the clamshell box with the dressing provided - as it's done in the store. That was a good call - too many salads go limp if doused in dressing before being picked up. What I received was a crispy bed of green leaf topped with an entire orange worth of slices, cherry tomatoes, big chunks of blue cheese, candied walnuts, dried cherries and strips of tortilla. The dressing, which I put on after the photo (sorry, I was hungry) combined balsamic vinegar and oil with agave syrup and agave leaves, was tangy and sweet. A very good, light salad! I made a note to get the guacamole salad the next time, seeing another customer dining on one at a booth near the register. I could see the huge scoop of guacamole was heavily drizzled with white cheese dip amidst a goodly amount of beans.
I should mention, the restaurant offers several alcoholic beverages, including a range of frozen and traditional margaritas, coconut and hibiscus
mojitos, and an ample selection of Mexican beer.
There's also a great Taco Tuesday promotion with five free tacos for every 20 ordered, so if you're looking for a family meal, there you go.
The restaurant does now allow some limited indoor dining, socially distanced. It's also reclaiming the parking area in front of the restaurant specifically for patio dining, offering another option for those who are concerned about being in indoor spaces during this pandemic. I've decided as soon as I am clear to travel again, it'll be one of the places I enjoy when I get into town.
La Media Luna is located in the Johnson community, sandwiched between Fayetteville proper and Springdale. It's located on Main Drive, about halfway between the interstate and Thompson Avenue, three blocks to the east and the other side of the street from the excellent Wright's Barbecue. It's open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and closed on Sunday. The major delivery services (GrubHub, DoorDash, Bite Squad and Uber Eats) all have the restaurant on their offerings. There's also a pick-up window. Be sure to tip.
The restaurant is very good about updating its Facebook account - with delectable photographs (some of which you see here throughout this article) and Facebook live events. Musical guests are common, which is lovely. Listening in from afar isn't as good as being right there, but it sure is nice. For more information, check out La Media Luna's website or call (479) 316-8008. The menu is available below.
This article contains images from the La Media Luna Facebook page, as well as images taken from previous visits to the location by the author.
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