For a town of its size, Rolla miraculously manages to sustain a surprising number of niche and redundant businesses. One of the most confusing redundancies is how Rolla has four different Mexican restaurants (five if you count Taco Bell). Still, the number of choices is refreshing, and each of the restaurants manages to fill a specific niche.
For Los Arcos, that niche is its focus on quality food and a nicer atmosphere. The restaurant is decorated to look slightly more fancy than the others in Rolla, and so it has become a great destination for everything from family events to dates.
From the outside, Los Arcos appears unassuming, nestled into a strip mall off of Highway 70. Once inside, the restaurant is an explosion of sound and smell. On the busiest nights, there is often a wait. When I visited for my review with a couple of friends, the wait was nearly 45 minutes out in the cold due to the lack of a large waiting area.
Once I was seated, the waiter took drink orders. Compared to El Maguey’s great margarita specials, Los Arcos’ specials feel a bit disappointing. Because of this, I decided to forgo a margarita for a Modelo Negra served with lime, the perfect dark Mexican beer. The waiter brought the drinks out and was polite, but brusque, likely due to the business of the restaurant.
While waiting for our food, we enjoyed the complimentary chips and salsa, as well as an order of cheese dip. The chips were medium to thin thickness, and were fresh and warm. The salsa was good as well, a little watery and mild but with a strong flavor that wasn’t too vinegary. The cheese dip was less unique, but was still warm and creamy, acting as a good balance to the salsa.
I ordered my typical test food for Mexican restaurants, a beef chimichanga, in this case, the “super chimichanga”. Despite the fullness of the restaurant, it was not long before our food was prepared and ready. The food was not particularly noteworthy in its presentation, but nevertheless looked delicious.
At Los Arcos, the super chimichanga consists of two smaller chimichangas served with beans on an untouchably hot plate. The fried tortilla was a light golden tan, drizzled with creamy white queso. It was fried for the perfect amount of time, resulting in a tortilla casing that was flaky all the way through, and never succumbed to sogginess on the bottom. The lack of sogginess allowed the chimichanga to be easily cut, and kept it from decaying into a mess of chimichanga salad.
The filling of the chimichanga was great as well. The beef was lean and well seasoned, and the smaller size of the two chimichangas resulted in a better balance of beef, tortilla, and queso. The addition of guacamole also gave the chimichangas a hint of freshness. Altogether, the chimichangas are likely the best in Rolla, although I found myself wishing for a little more kick.
The side of refried beans was satisfactory, but not particularly special. I also found the lack of Mexican rice to be a disappointment. Perhaps if Los Arcos cut the amount of refried beans in half and substituted rice, the meal would be perfect. As it is, it was the perfect portion size, if not a little too large, and I found myself quickly abandoning my best laid plans to try some dessert.
The food at Los Arcos stands out when compared to the other options for tex-mex in Rolla, distinguishing it as one of the better restaurants in the city. Although Los Arcos can’t compete with El Maguey’s appeal as a place to drink with friends, its food surpasses El Maguey’s making it the ideal choice when looking for delicious Mexican food in Rolla.