Charly’s Taqueria a Delicious Hole-in-the-Wall
Something you won’t hear people in Fayetteville say: There aren’t nearly enough Mexican restaurants here. Although it may be true that Fayetteville has an excess of Mexican dining options, what we may lack is a source for original and authentic cuisine.
Problem solved, Fayetteville. A short drive north to our neighboring town, Springdale, and you’ll be experiencing a very different taste of Mexico. Charly’s Taqueria is as much of a hole-in-the-wall as restaurants can get. Sharing a building with a garage, it would be easy to overlook the restaurant and miss out on a tasty adventure.
Walking in, it’s almost surprising that Charly’s looks so put together compared to its exterior. The restaurant consists of three rooms of booths, tables and chairs. There is a bar to sit at where you can watch them prepare your food. At the counter at which you place your order, I had to ask for some assistance when ordering. The wall is your menu here, and it completely overwhelmed me.
The man behind the counter suggested I try the torta, a sort of Mexican sandwich. I didn’t even ask what was on it. For all I know it could have been tongue, a meat option that was featured on the menu. Although it might be a delicacy to some, I don’t think I have enough mind-over-matter strength to ingest such a thing as tongue.
Luckily, that wasn’t the case with the torta. A little bird told me that their horchata is some of the best around. Anytime someone says, “best in etc., etc.” I’m just going to have to give it a go.
I take a seat and am momentarily distracted by Heath Ledger as “The Joker” on the television that is perched in two corners of the dining area. Never having seen this movie, I attempted to play catch-up, but alas, the movie was in Español. I should have known better.
My horchata made its way to my table. The cinnamon-y, milky concoction stole my heart. I was determined to make it last the entire meal instead of guzzling it down before I even had the chance to try anything substantial.
In the nick of time, my torta arrived, a heaping sandwich filled with beef, and, if I’m not mistaken, ham, avocado, tomato and cheese. I experimented with the two sauces that were brought to the table and found that a 50/50 combination of both the vinegary-yet-spicy green sauce and the chipotle spicy red sauce suited my taste buds best.
Once my torta performed a rather mysterious disappearing act (into my mouth, then stomach), I decided that was about as much damage as I could do for one trip. I returned to the counter to pay.
The bill rang up to be five dollars even, amazingly enough. Delicious and thrifty, is this real life? As I autographed my debit card receipt, the same handsome, I mean helpful, man suggested I try their raw oysters next time. To that, I grimaced and laughed. Definitely not brave enough for that.
I turned to leave, and then something caught my eye. How is it that every time I’m in a Mexican restaurant that have ice cream cases, I miss the ice cream case? I was standing next to it the entire time, facing it. I promised myself that, next time, I would allow myself such an indulgence.
My next visit came sooner than I had expected. I realized I hadn’t tried enough of the menu to thoroughly enjoy Charly’s Taqueria. I brought the troops with me, partly so I could be sure that Charly’s wasn’t a figment of my imagination, partly so they could also enjoy the authentic cuisine.
It was something different than our usual Mexico Viejo/La Huerta trip. Something I thought they’d appreciate, and I was right. One ordered tacos, the other fajitas. Hoping no one would recognize me, I disguised myself with the only thing I had glasses. I asked for assistance again and ended up ordering two sopes, which are basically flat tacos with a fried tortilla, and two tacos – one beef and one pork. I noticed they offer cheese dip, and I just couldn’t pass it up. Colombia Mex, take note.
We sat and conversed while waiting on our food. Once our drinks made it to our table, we were informed of the little refrigerated stations that house toppings for our meals – cilantro, lime, pico de gallo, onion and more.
Our feasts arrived. Mumbling between bites, we were all doting on our meals. The fajitas, the tacos, the sopes—all wonderful. I have to admit, the pork taco was definitely my favorite. The sopes, are a hazard for someone like me who can’t keep food off their clothes due to clumsy eating. I even asked if I was eating it right, apparently there is no clean trick to eating a sope. Apart from the fact that I have the motor skills of a toddler, the sope was outstanding.
By the time I lost sensation in my lips due to over-saucing everything on my plate with the increasingly spicy picante that was at our table, I knew this was a place we would be returning to on a weekly basis. The staff is nice, pleasant and seems to enjoy their customers as much as their customers enjoy their food. The drive isn’t an issue at all when such a destination awaits.
We paid our bill, and I pulled out an extra dollar to purchase a guava-flavored ice cream bar, which quickly restored my lips to their natural state, killing the numbing effect the picante sauce had on me.
Driving back home, we knew that Charly’s Taqueria was a place that would haunt our cravings from now on. Luckily, if those cravings happen to be nocturnal, Charly’s is open until 11 p.m. everyday. I highly recommend it over Taco Bell, higher quality food for about the same price. You can’t beat that.
Charly’s Taqueria is located at 1830 South Pleasant St., in Springdale.