Monday, August 13, 2007

La Carreta: A Good Mexican Restaurant

Mexican in New Hampsha is more or less hit or miss, with less "hit" and more "miss." The exception to this is La Carreta, a restaurant that's been in around for about ten years.

Now, I've eaten Mexican in a lot of places (including Sydney, Australia!), and northern New England isn't a place where you would expect to find good Latin food, but La Carreta seems to have broken the mold up here. I first encountered the restaurant about ten years or so ago when it opened in a tiny strip mall on Daniel Webster Highway in Nashua. It quickly became a favorite lunch spot of mine (I was working in Nashua at the time) and is, to this day, one of my family's favorite restaurants.

The margaritas taste great--sweet, sour, and no too heavily laden with tequila. The beers are served in huge mugs (if you order the large drafts), although they will try to stick a lime on your Mexican draft if you don't tell them otherwise—I don't like fruit in my beer! The tortilla chips are freshly made and served warm, and they are usually refilled before you reach the bottom of the basket. The salsa is one of the best in the area with bits of onion and cilantro to give it a very fresh taste.

Unlike a lot of Mexican restaurants, La Carreta doesn't do the standard Mexican appetizers. No hot wings or taquitos (although they do serve taquitos as a entreé) to be found here, but they have a Queso Fundido (white cheese dip with ground chorizo sausage mixed in) that my wife and kids always insist on having with a couple of side orders of flour tortillas.

La Carreta really shines with its entreés, though. There's the usual combinations of tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and other standard Mexican fair, but there are a lot of specials as well. The Grande Burrito, for instance, contains chunks of seasoned steak to make it an unforgettable dish... and the "Grande" part of the name is no lie—you may find it difficult to finish it! The Chile Verde (green chile sauce with chunks of pork or steak) is done very nicely, as is the Chori Pollo (chicken breast, queso fundido, and flour tortillas). There are also lunch specials consisting of special combinations at a reduced price, lower prices on some of their regular menu items (same portion, lower price), and a couple of lunch-only items, like the Huevos Rancheros.

The food is quite authentic—considering that we are deep within Gringo Country up here. While it may not rival a typical Mexican restaurant deep in the heart of Texas, it's quite good and easily the best in the state.

I've rarely had disappointing service at La Carreta. Meals come out quickly, and water and soft drinks are refilled automatically.

Parking can be tricky at the Nashua location, since it's in a tiny strip mall. The location in Derry has a larger parking area, and the restaurant in Manchester is the largest. They've recently opened a location in Keene, which is where Chardonnay will be attending college in a few weeks, so I know she's looking forward to some good Mexican chow during the school year.

I heartily recommend La Carreta to anybody with a hankering for Mexican food. The food is great, the drinks are wonderful, and the service is prompt. What more can you expect?

Rating: Recommended

Bon Appetit

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