When it comes to Mexican cuisine, I treat it the same way as I probably treat Chinese. There’s a HUGE variation of Mexican food out there and I enjoy it all. But I do prefer more authentic and more down-home at a decent price. Who needs great decor and fancy-shmancy when the food is good? So that’s what I had in my head when I stepped into La Carreta, a newish Mexican spot in the complex with the 401 Oberlin Court Apartments…
Located on a corner of the plaza, La Carreta is in a big space with a large side patio which will be nice when things get warmer. Inside the place is nicely decorated with Mexican pieces and some salsa music is drifting out of the speakers. I’m dining solo today so I grab a seat at the bar but there’s plenty of seats available in the dining room. From what I found in my research, La Carreta is one of eight locations of this small Mexican chain hailing out of Asheville.
Cracking open the menu it takes a while for me to scan the menu. There are a LOT of choices and even for lunch options there are 25 or so choices ranging from $7 to $15. Tacos, tamales, burritos, fajitas, chilaquiles, all the usual suspects. I’m in burrito-mode today so I go for the grand burrito at $8.95, with steak and smothered with red sauce.
I’m breaking into the basket of chips when my food comes out. It can’t be more than 5 minutes so lunch service here is lickety split! And it’s a decent looking burrito but smallish. I taste the red sauce first and it’s got the tomato but not much spicing. Cheese on top is definitely not cotija, maybe monterey jack. I dig into the burrito and it’s decent, stuffed with refried beans, good steak but over-cooked rice (mushy). It’s perfectly fine but missing the spices, flavor and texture that I would expect out of a good burrito.
Service at the bar was fine but the seats are too low for the bar top and the pepsi was pretty flat. Overall I thought La Carreta was just ok but in my experience, very Americanized and missing flavor. Along with the slightly higher lunch prices and medium portions, not a great value. You come here if you want some ambiance and decent food but not for value and flavor. I’d prefer to do it more low-brow at places like Los Cuates, Tacos y Mariscos Vallarta or even La Cocina for my Mexican. So we’ll see how La Carreta does in this tough spot. It’s not bad, it’s not great, think A-OK for Mexican and you’ll be perfectly pleased.