CAROLINA MEXICAN GRILL
14001 Dallas Pkwy, Dallas, TX 75240
- Mon - Fri
6:30 am - 6:00 pm
10:00 am - 3:00 pm
My best friend is the president of the top commercial real estate brokerage in a large West Texas city. The only thing he likes better than closing a tricky deal is a fabulous meal. So when he comes to town, we head for Carolina's Mexican Food, and I give him my take on the real estate market here in Dallas. ============= The restaurant was founded in 1968 by namesake Carolina Valenzuela, who still presides over the kitchen.
The character of the neighborhood is etched on the building's cinder-block facade. The restaurant's skin has been pockmarked by bullets and its windows and doors outfitted with heavy metal security bars. It's around noon when we arrive, and a small lot at the side of the restaurant is already full. We join other vehicles on the street, where my friend's rented Cadillac seems out of place among the Mercedes-Benzes and BMW's. As we approach the entrance, I notice reward posters taped up between the bullet holes in Carolina's front window: $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of a murder suspect and an unspecified amount offered for the recovery of Chori, a lost Rottweiler. In its neighborhood, Carolina's is a source of both sustenance and social interaction. Inside, scrape of crepe paper cling to the ceiling, remnants of a recent birthday party or community celebration. The interior of Carolina's is austere. There is a small room at the entrance where orders are placed and takeout customers wait for their numbers to be called. Above the order counter is a large, painted menu, where prices hang on hooks to accommodate inflation. Many of the numbers are missing, however, having been blown off by the opening and closing of the front door. When the restaurant isn't crowded, I like to linger near the counter because of the excellent view it affords of the kitchen. It's a busy place. In the center is a large table where workers pick through a pile of meat, preparing the pieces for transformation into Carolina's delicious chiles verdes and rojos, its mouthwatering machaca and spicy chorizo for which the restaurant has become famous. But, Carolina's is best known for its flour tortilla ------- a large, delicately thin and slightly chewy affair that makes the most elegant wrap for the restaurant's divine burro. The tortillas, which are available by the dozen for takeout, are churned out by a crew of workers who stand before a bank of hot griddles, deftly flipping the paper thin rounds of dough and piling them up for packaging. The menu offers a traditional sampling of tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, tamales, burros and various combinations thereof. The corn tortillas used for the tacos, enchiladas and tostadas are from an outside supplier, and while first-rate, they pale in comparison to the magnificent flour ones made in-house.
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