The guy directing traffic at the Arkansas Goat Festival in Perryville on Saturday suggested, when we inquired about a good place to eat in town, Mustang Sally’s, which he described as a Dairy Queen-type place for hamburgers. Our most charitable interpretation of his question is that we looked Dairy Queen types to him, despite our Chaco-wearing feet and hip T-shirts. Because right there on Main Street, just before Perryville’s charming courthouse square, is Hidalgo’s Mexican Restaurant, and boy was it better than any Dairy Queen — or most Tex-Mexican restaurants in Little Rock, for that matter.
In honor of the ruminant being celebrated just down the road — and we do mean celebrated, because the traffic to Perryville’s city park was bumper-to-bumper for four miles at one point — Hidalgo’s was offering goat tacos. We demurred, since one of us had actually had a goat taco in the past. Instead, we settled in to our booth with a view of the town and ordered up enchiladas, vegetarian quesadillas and grilled shrimp tacos.
A word about the quesadillas. Would that every restaurant made quesadillas this way. Ours was made with a large grilled flour tortilla folded over a more than generous filling of plump, sliced sauteed mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, cheese and — watch out! — thin-sliced jalapeno peppers. Pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole over lettuce came on the side. The quantity was nothing that a human should consume in one sitting, but one works up an appetite visiting zillions of booths and playing with costumed goats and meeting their owners for hours.
Ditto on the tortilla that came with a side of sizzling spicy shrimpers. There were so many shrimps — a dozen! — that it took all three of us to finish the plate. You can’t leave a delicious grilled shrimp behind, even if you are stuffed. So we didn’t. We didn’t even leave the tails behind.
So, here’s what else is on the menu: the meat eater’s favorite, parillada Mexicana that includes sautéed steak, chicken, shrimp, chorizo and pork. Molcajete, a parillada with cactus. Shrimp cocktails with avocado and cilantro. Chicken in all its forms — grilled, breaded, cooked in tomatillo sauce. Burritos, chimichangas, fajitas. Beef tips sauteed in jalapenos, tomatoes and onions. Huevos con chorizo. And for folks who want to stick with an Arkansas menu, specials include catfish and fried pickles.
Right there in Perryville. Good iced tea and Jarritos in many flavors. You can’t go wrong here.
You won’t find goat parades every day in Perryville, but you’ve got a good reason to go to this little burb just north of town. Even the decor, its chairs carved with agave and caballero images and its ceiling hung with papel picado, charms. Service was a bit slow, but that might be because Perryville, and thus Hidalgo’s, was filled to the gills with goat-lovers. Hidalgo’s Mexican Restaurant
215 W. Main St.501-889-1280
There is no lunch menu on Saturday, so you’ll order off the main menu, but prices are average: The vegetarian quesadilla was $9; the shrimp was $11.
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
No alcohol, credit cards accepted.