Food Review: Mockingbird Bar and Taco in the SOMA District

I finally tried Mockingbird Bar and Tacos (previously known as Dos Rocas), a new-ish restaurant in the South On Main district of Little Rock. Here’s the breakdown:

Atmosphere:

The restaurant looks small from the outside, but is rather large. It was very modern, yet homey inside, with many plants and colorful features.

I was dining with two companions and around 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday, it only took about 5 minutes to get a booth.

Menu:

You can find a link to their menu on their website or here on their Facebook page: Menu. There are many options, but mostly it consists of Central/ South American cuisine. What I love about the menu is everything served is local or in-house. There are also plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, as well as plenty of meat-lovers options.

Food:

We started with two appetizers:

Orange Salad ($5)
Description: Slices of orange seasoned with cumin and paprika, topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and shaved pickled red onion

I ordered this dish because it was nothing I would have ever thought to create on my own, and I am so glad I did. It was delicious and refreshing! I would definitely get this again.

Deviled Eggs ($6)
Description: Locally farmed eggs with Farmer Fin with arbol hot sauce and tortilla crunch

My friends agreed this may be the best deviled egg in Central Arkansas. It was flavorful, only slightly spicy, and the crunch added a nice texture.

Our meals:

2 Taco Plate ($9)
Description: Served with a side of beans and a small side salad
Taco: Chorizo: spiced pork sausage from Rabbit Ridge Farm
Taco: Fried Fish: masa tossed AR  striped bass with tomatillo chow chow, chipotle crema, cilantro, and onion

I ordered the chorizo taco and fried fish taco. I can’t pick a favorite. They were both delicious! The house-made tortillas held together perfectly and the fillings were very tasty. I can’t pick a favorite. It would be hard to not order these again.

The side salad was delicious, topped with a homemade dressing and pickled onions.

The beans were very flavorful and I devoured them.

Butternut Squash Salad ($9)
Description: Raw and pickled butternut squash on a bed of fresh local greens with avocado, queso fresco, toasted coriander, pickled onions, and cilantro-lime vinaigrette.
*vinaigrette contains fish sauce

My friend ordered this HUGE salad. It was definitely the item worth it’s price. There were so many fresh spring greens with delicious toppings, that it was hard to mix the salad on the given plate. My friend even had to get a large to-go box to take her leftovers home. I may have to order this next time!

Taco, a la carte ($3.50)
Smoked Tofu: smoky grilled tofu, grilled pineapple pico, and guajillo adobo

My friend ordered these and enjoyed them, but said the seasonal vegetable empanada was better. Sorry, no pic.

Empanadas: ($3 a la carte)
Description: Ground Beef: traditional street-style recipe with cumin-spiced ground beef from Rabbit Ridge Farms, green peppers, onion, and chopped eggs from Farmer Fin
Description: Seasonal Veggie: Local vegetables grilled and tossed with arbol salsa

I REALLY wanted to try the empandas, but was full, so I ordered three to go. 2 beef and 1 seasonal vegetable.

I love that these are fried! (The only way to really enjoy empanadas). The beef was good, but a little on the bland side. The seasonal vegetables was surprisingly flavorful and my favorite of the two. The green salsa on the table and the pickled onions that came with the order really helped the flavors pop.

Overall:
This dinner took about 2 hours from start to finish, so this is no place for a quick meal. However, the food was delicious and priced well. I will say, that after the orange salad and two taco place, I was not full. That’s not a bad thing. However, you may want to purchase more than a two taco plate to get your fill.

Recipe: Hearty Chili….psst….don’t tell anyone it is vegan.

I entered a chili contest at my Dad’s church, here is southern Arkansas, to raise funds for a mission trip- one that happens to be going where my sister, Kelsey, lives as a full-time missionary. So, this would be an amazing trip to help not only the school they work out and the children, but Kelsey and other missionaries there.
My dad was entering as well, and I know he is a great cook, but we are very competitive. So, I was going to make a chili so unique and so delicious that there was no way it wouldn’t win.
When I told my dad I was making it vegan (honestly because one of the most flavorful “meats” I have tasted have been a vegan “chorizo” and I thought that would be perfect in a chili!) he laughed and said no one at his church would like a vegan chili.
Well, I’m stubborn and did it anyway and it turned out great. It was not only one of the best chilis I have ever had, it also would fool any meat eater.

Needless to say, my dad was right. I heard so many people make comments like “If there isn’t meat in it, it isn’t chili” and “This one is great! Oh wait, what? Vegan? Gross!”. Or my favorite “I don’t care what’s in it, it is delicious!”.
My dad won first place, but to be fair, his chili was delicious! Just like I like it, so it was a well deserved win.

Though, I still had questions about what meat substitute I used and the recipe, so here it is, my losing vegan chili. =)

Ingredients

-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-3 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle “sausages” (vegetarian)
-2 bags Boca Veggie Crumbles
-1 red bell pepper, chopped
-1 orange bell pepper, chopped
-2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
-1 large yellow onion, chopped
-8 ounces diced green chiles
-6 cloves garlic (6 tablespoons minced)
-1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons salt
-2 bay leaves
-1 teaspoon cayenne powder
-1 teaspoon smoked paprika
-1 tablespoon cumin
-2 tablespoons chili powder
-1 teaspoon oregano
-4 tablespoons brown sugar
-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar
-2 tablespoons Worcestershire
-2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
-1/2 cup 60%, or darker, dark chocolate chunks (I used Private
Selection)
-2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
-1 can regular beer (not dark, not light)
-1/2 cup vegetable broth
-3 tablespoons masa
-1 can chili hot beans, drained, but not rinsed
-1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed.
-1 can black beans, rinsed.

Directions

1.  Open and break up the chipotle “sausages” to resemble ground
meat.
2. In a medium-high heated pan, with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive
oil, add the veggie sausages, veggie meat crumbles,  the chopped bell
peppers, jalapeños, dices green chiles, and onion. and sear until browned.
3. Add the minced garlic for only a couple minutes while everything
else is browning- garlic will burn easily.
4. Add all your seasonings and herbs and liquids: salt, bay leaves,
cayenne powder, smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, oregano,
brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire, soy sauce or
tamari, and dark chocolate. Then, adding your crushed tomatoes
and beer.
5. In a separate cup, mix your veggie broth with the masa and add to
the chili. (This thickens the chili and gives a slight hint of corn flavor.
If you like runnier chili, feel free to leave this step out.)  Stir well and
bring to a simmer. Then, lower heat to medium low, cover, and let sit,
stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes- 1 hour. You can go longer, if you
prefer it to break down even more.
6. At least 15 minutes before you serve, put your beans in. Feel free to
use any canned beans you like, I liked the variety. And drain any kind
except 1 can of chili hot beans- this gives the chili good flavor, imho.
You can add them earlier if you don’t mind them a little softer.
7. Always taste for any extra needed salt or spicy to make the chili
taste just the way you like. Add whatever toppings you prefer
(cilantro tastes great with this one) and enjoy!

Overall, the event was super fun with a great band, tons of chili and all the fixins and then more delicious desserts than I could eat.  Good money was raised for a good cause and everyone had a great time. Good times!