Review No. 27: Tacos 4 Life
716 Oak Street
16.7 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants
She Said: After a busy day, we were looking for something yummy to eat in Conway before going home and settling down for the evening. I’d seen photos of the new fall menu tacos on Facebook, so I was curious about trying them, so off we went to Tacos 4 Life, a mini-chain with two locations in Conway. When I get these tacos, I usually drive-through, so though I’d eaten here before, dining in was going to be somewhat novel.
He Said: They’ve also got a restaurant in Fayetteville and one due to open before too long in Little Rock. The “4 Life” part of the name comes from their stated goal that for each meal you buy, they will donate a meal to a “hungry child.” Their Website notes that they donate the cost of a meal to the charity Feed My Starving Children every time you eat there. This sounds like a good deal to me. I’ve been here before as well, and I’ve eaten in there, so I don’t know where you were, Jones. I had generally thought it was OK, but it’s been a little while, and they’ve got some new tacos on their fall menu, so, let’s see what’s up here at the Tacos 4 Life on Oak.
She Said: One of the reasons I tend to drive-through for these tacos is that I remember dining in here and feeling that it was somewhat loud and not that relaxing. But last week when we were there, it wasn’t very crowded and I enjoyed the experience. The décor is appealing and eclectic, with a rustic feel, though it’s definitely polished and purposeful. There’s even a photo booth! There’s lots of signage, including information on how purchases from the restaurant translate into meals for hungry children. There’s also a whole wall of branded T-shirts and logo-wear you can buy. There are two smallish dining rooms, the main one where you order, and a kind of all-weather sun-porch area with additional tables. There are a lot of hard surfaces, which may contribute to rising noise levels when it’s crowded.
He Said: Yeah, I’m not sure whether any of the profits from the T-shirts etc. go to those hungry kids, but, yes, the place does have a relaxing feel. Personally I think the sunporch is the more relaxing, and less noisy.
She Said: Fountain drinks and tea. (Another reason I drive-through is because tacos and beer go so well together, I often take mine home, so I can make this pairing at my own table.) When we were there, the ice maker was broken, and so my iced tea wasn’t going to be too enjoyable. A mentioned the issue to an employee, and she got to work on it, and came to get me at my table to tell me it was fixed when she was finished.
He Said: Yeah, I actually can’t remember what I had. Should have written it down. It was probably a Coke.
She Said: As I mentioned, I was interested in the seasonal menu tacos my friends had been noshing on and posting about, so I carefully perused the menu when it came to the fall offerings. I chose the roasted fig and apple taco from this list, and then I went with my favorite, the ono shrimp taco, for my second. The fig and apple taco had sweet-potato crisps and lots of dark greens, and the flavors and textures blended nicely. It also had the perfect taste of fall with the fruit served in a savory taco. In contrast to the ono shrimp, though, it seemed a little dry, but I would get it again; it was tasty! The ono shrimp taco includes fried shrimp and pineapple in a fruity cream sauce. I can’t come here and not order this thing of flavor-beauty.
It must be stated though that for the two of us, the real star of this menu is the cilantro lime rice that you can order as a side. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the year. It’s light, but also satisfying, with the perfect blend of tastes. I try to limit carbs, so this rice is more of a treat to me than any dessert they have at this restaurant. I also got chips and guacamole, but I think the guac has too strong of a tomato tang to it, so it’s not my favorite.
He Said: I agree that the cilantro lime rice here is very likely the best rice in Conway. It’s dang good, so don’t ever eat here without getting some, or I’ll hunt you down like the dog you are.
One of the reasons I’ve not been that keen on the tacos here in previous visits is that the restaurant’s signature hard taco shells were never really to my taste, but this time I ordered the tacos on corn shells which were much more to my liking. Also, rather than ordering some kind of chicken taco and leave off many of the ingredients that would make it tasty, I noticed that there is a vegan choice of taco on the menu: the “Magic Tofu” taco. They sear the tofu and marinate it in chipotle and tomato as well as a kind of secret “magic” seasoning. Also they include poblano salsa, roasted corn and salsa, avocado and a slice of lime. Because of my need to keep the fat content as low as possible, I asked them to leave off the avocado. But I just want to say that these were among the best tacos I’ve ever had anywhere—a really delicious combination of flavors and a pretty healthy combination of ingredients at the same time. I recommend them highly. I also had a side order of refried black beans, which were a bit of a change from the more typical refried beans, and made a great addition to the tacos when I spooned a few of them into the shell.
She Said: This is a quick-serve restaurant, so you grab a menu as you walk in, and when you’re ready, or your wait in line is up, you order at the counter. They give you a buzzer, and you find a table, get your drinks and wait. We did get the chips and guacamole right away, though, which is nice, as it helps the wait. Generally, I do prefer to be seated and waited on, but their system seems to work efficiently. The staffer who waited on us was friendly, and helpful and answered our questions, as we’re not regular visitors. The woman whom I asked to fix the ice machine also was energetic and helpful in a friendly, welcoming way.
He Said: Yes, I’m not crazy about this kind of system either, but it worked fine. They are very friendly when you come in and call out a welcome to you from the counter, and the person who waited on us was full of smiles and eager to please. They did make a bit of a mistake on my order, thinking that I had wanted the refried beans instead of the rice rather than in addition to the rice, but the very quickly corrected that when I picked up the order and did it with a friendly “the customer is always right” attitude.
What We Got and What We Paid: Chips and guacamole, a roast fig and apple taco, an ono shrimp taco, two magic tofu vegan tacos, two cilantro lime rice sides and a refried black bean side, and two drinks for $27.56.
She Said: Yeah, I’m “4” this place. Good food, with a changing menu of interesting, healthy offerings along with all your old favorites, and friendly service. Also, it’s delicious.
He Said: Yes, really good fresh Mexican food that’s not too heavy. So two thumbs up on this one, I think.
So…He Said and She Said: Dine-in or to-go, these tacos are winners in Conway.