Rolando's, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Sunday, July 5, 2009


4th of July Family Vacation

My fabulous sister-in-law and I decided to take our 3rd annual family vacation to Hot Springs this year after discussing many other destinations. I have a warm fuzzy feeling for Hot Springs every March during racing season when Jackie, Chloe and I go for the Thoroughbreds and fun at the race track. Hot Springs during the summer was a first for me. Kara is a huge massage and spa queen so we booked rooms at the Arlington, a historical hotel built in 1924. About twenty years ago the hotel got a makeover but none since as we noticed when we could hear the tv next door to us, the dripping sink and the scuffs on the woodwork in our room. But I love the Arlington and I love its lobby bar that brags of its Friday and Saturday night big band music and ballroom dancers.
Under Kara's direction, we walked across the street to a mexican restaurant she recommended. We were sat in the front room and had to wait for just a few before the table for nine was built. Central avenue is a great tourist street and we enjoyed waiting outside on the sidewalk. We all noticed a sign about Happy Hour on the patio at Rolando's so Jeanie and the boys quickly went upstairs to check it out. The patio was really neat featuring a deck against the hillside surrounded by trees. It was shaded and cool out there.
We were pleasantly surprised by the fabulous menu at Rolando's. Entrada boasted a menu of Guacamole, Tamales, Queso Flamado, Spcicaldo de Pollo, Sopa de Camarones among others. With chips and a homemade corn salsa already on our table, I did cringe when Kara ordered Guacamole as an appetizer. Much to my dismay, I really liked the gauc and its seasoning which I think was cumin, lime and definately red onion. Under Plato Principal we were overwhelmed with the choices of LuLa's Enchiladas, Guacatastada, Esnsalada De Le Casa and El Plato Cubano. Jackie ordered the Lula's Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas featuring black beans and brown rice. The plate looked like a piece of art decorated with sour cream, parsley and a tomatillo sauce. I had a bite and I will say it was divine.
Mother-in-law Jeanie ordered the Guacatosta, guacamole served on corn tostadas which cheese, vegetables, Argentinean sauce and sour cream with black beans and rice. Another piece of artwork nearly licked clean.
Martin, Harmon and I ordered Pescado de Mesias. It generally bothers me that three of our nine patrons ordered the same thing but I decided after seventeen years, why should I change my order? The Tilapia was really, really good. It was seasoned and grilled to perfection. It was a huge plate I will say, somewhat overwhelming. I had two tilapia fillets over black beans and rice sprinkled with cheese and sour cream. The third work of art at our table. Kara ordered the Ensalada De la Casa which was hand tossed greens with mixed vegetables, cucumbers, red onions and Argnetinean sauce topped with gaucamole and mango sauce. Yes, another work of art. Have I mentioned what Chloe had? She picked Andrew's Favorite, chicken tenders and beans and rice. This was a fabulous plate for our 8 year old. The chicken wasn't fried out of a fry daddy. It was a boneless, skinless chicken breast seasoned and sauteed to perfection. It was served over black beans, the rice was served on the side. She loved it and shared a bite for all of us. It was a good meal for her and a good experience to eat what you don't expect. She didn't even ask for ketchup.
My tilapia was so good and I have to confess I had to try the tamales at this authentic latin-mexican restaurant so I did order the appetizer portion of tamales to split with Jackie and they were really good. The handmade pork tamales were steaming in the husks and the mesa was just thick enough. Even the tamales were art on a plate surrounded by tomatoes and sour cream.
You can't truly experience a restaurant with Chloe and not order dessert. She got the Molten Lava Cake with ice cream. And it was that, molten lava chocolicious.
I didn't mention the heat in the restaurant but by the time we were all finished with our dinner, we were all sweating bullets. It was warm in there and the front door of this restaurant was open the whole time. The bulding was built the early 1800's on a hillside in the downtown historic district. Kara and I admired the 15 foot ceiling featuring painted metal tiles.
I love mexican food and Rolando's is a must when you're in Hot Springs. It put Happy Mexican and Topolobambo to shame.

This picture is Whit passed out in his chair after Rolando's. I'd say he liked it.

Rolando's Restaurante, 210 Central Ave, Hot Springs, Arkansas 501-318-6054

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