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Jul 6, 2006 06:53 PM

Carolina's Mexican/Phoenix

Don't you be jealous...........I'm goin' to Carolina's for lunch today! WHOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  1. The original location? Something about the heat, the rattling of the ac/swamp cooler, and the slamming front door that reminds of my grandma's. :D

    Just for that, a full report is due.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mamamia

      ABSOLUTELY the original location. I'm taking a Carolina's virgin with me! Let the fun begin!

    2. Oh now, you've got me craving a red machaca burro, foot long, enchilada style, don't skimp the brown sauce, with a dozen tortillas to take home.

      Sometimes if I don't go foot long I will just get an extra butter tortilla and a small container of brown sauce and just dip like a little kid. I might have a problem, I can't say no to that stuff.

      Maybe tomorrow for lunch.

      15 Replies
      1. re: themis

        They never skimp on the brown sauce. It has ruined me for any other fast food Mex.

        The North location (2126 E Cactus Rd Phoenix, AZ) has suffered a small drop in business, due to the construction of an adjacent building in the mall.

        1. re: johnseberg

          Tell me about the brown sauce. I don't remember getting sauced.
          At the very least, should it be asked for?

          1. re: tastyjon


            Any Burro Enchilada Style (under Extras
            )Enchilada Sauce (under Side Orders)

            Of course, any order of enchiladas, and, also, I think the combo of red tamales (#11).

            I'm pretty sure it can be ordered by the pint or quart.

            1. re: johnseberg

              Thank you, i've been looking for an explanation of 'brown sauce".

              I'm getting the feeling that I should make a beeline to Carolina's as soon as I pick up my rental car at the airport. Should I call in my order in advance?

              Carolina's Mexican Food Restaurant
              1202 E Mohave St, Phoenix, AZ 85034

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Not unless you're extraordinarily rushed. Carolina's is normally quick to fill orders.

                1. re: exit2lef

                  Good to know, and it's better to smell and see the food around me before ordering. Plus I'd rather not have my order steaming in the container. Since I probably won't make it to Rosita's Place or El Bravo, I'll try to hit the local Mexican food specialties here. Is the Oaxaca Special best plain or should I order it enchilada style, fried or foot-long? I want to try the machaca too, as a taco or burro? And a green corn tamal as well. Are the enchiladas rolled or flat?

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    The enchiladas are rolled and made with corn tortillas that are brought in from an outside supplier. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but the restaurant is best known for its flour tortillas made on the premises.

                    1. re: exit2lef

                      love their flour tortillas and I get a flour tort with butter while I'm waiting for my food..they sell them too and they are delicious and huge!

                      1. re: exit2lef

                        Thanks again for all your helpful deets. I think I'll have to get some tortillas to take home. I'm also considering trying to stand-by for an earlier flight on friday to have a couple more hours to eat in your town!

                    2. re: exit2lef

                      When I arrived around 2pm on friday, there was no one in line to order. By the time I paid and turned around there were 6 people behind me. But as you say, it did go quickly. Since I ordered a bag of tortillas to go, my order took a little longer than the other people behind me.

                    3. re: Melanie Wong

                      We love Carolina's and the line moves quick and food doesn't take long at all..
                      We were in town a couple of weeks ago, and its a must to get my fix..
                      I think you'll really enjoy's on the back side of the Airport, so it'll be perfect when your picking up the rental car.

                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        What's your favorite item here? I had a great time in San Diego a couple months ago exploring the local style of Mexican food. I grew up with Michoacan and Jalisco style in the Salinas Valley, and San Francisco and north is home to many Yucatecan (both homestyle and alta cocina) and a growing presence of Oaxacan. So I'm excited to try the old school Phoenix places. Doesn't need to be fancy, I'm all about the food and soulfulness.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          this place is a real dive of a gem in PHX..lots of soul and I always get the #1 which is a taco and a cheese enchi with beans and rice..I don't eat meat so they replace with guac/cheese but love how they fry up those tacos..crispy and delicious..very old school and my husband gets the green chile burrito.
                          I wouldn't say this is authentic Mex but it sure is good and can't wait to eat there everytime I'm in PHX.

                          Always enjoy your posts and loved your reviews of places you dined at in SD..

              2. re: themis

                Thank you, thank you, thank you themis.

                I used your order verbatim and it was outstanding. The brown sauce is ridiculous. Enchilada sauce with a beef gravy flavour to it. It's as addictive as you elude to.

                Overall Carolina's is awesome. Everyone who I talked to who had been there says it's THE BEST in town.


                1. re: Davwud

                  You're very welcome -! My other regular order is the bean and potato burro, foot long, enchilada style. It's the flavor and textural equivalent of a hug from your mom.

              3. mmmmm it was SO good. I got my usual...the #9..two hard tacos with no rice, extra beans. Extra hot sauce.
                So awesome!
                My virgin freind the #1 combo with a taco, enchilada and beans/rice. She loved the taco, liked the enchilada. She got a side of guac and fell in love! I knew she would think the salsa was too hot, and I was right.

                God I love this place!

                5 Replies
                1. re: tattud_gurl

                  I have a friend and fellow Chower who moved to Texas -- and when she comes back to town, where do we have to go first? Sea Saw? Ciao? Nope, Carolina's for lunch. Apparently you can't get Mexican like that anywhere in Houston, which makes me sad. They put *chili*, not chile, on their burros. It makes me think I can never leave the Valley, I can never live anyplace where you can't get good Mexican any time you want it.

                  1. re: themis

                    Sorry, but according to the owner of Pink Taco, there is no good Mexican food in Phoenix.

                    (insert eyeroll here)

                    1. re: Seth Chadwick


                      I encourage you to go to Comedy Central's website and check the Video archive for the interview Ed Helms did for The Daily Show. It's called "Box Lunch".

                      1. re: johnseberg

                        Thank you! That Ed Helms bit was brilliant. I think the last line says it all.

                    2. re: themis

                      Houston has fabulous immigrant-style Mexican food -- she just hasn't found it. We loved Arandas Taquerias many locations, among others.

                  2. Oooooo...good one, Seth.

                    That guy's an idiot.
                    That's like going to China and saying there's no good Chinese food.

                    1. As promised, my first stop in Phoenix was Carolina's. The check-out guy at Hertz complimented me on my first choice of eating destination.

                      Green corn tamal didn't send me. The corn was tough, starchy and too old. This was a different style than I've had before at home, as this had plain masa filled with some whole kernels and green chile bits. I wondered if the "green" refers to the chile, whereas at home green corn means fresh corn, making it a seasonal item.

                      I ordered a soft machaca taco. What I got was not soft, but not exactly crispy. It was fried with a crispy edge, and I quite liked the thin, corny tasting tortilla. The very plain shredded beef filling with some shredded cheese and lettuce was just that, very plain. I wonder if I got something different than I ordered?

                      The stuff of dreams, however, was the Oaxaca Special ordered enchilada style. I loved that brown sauce! Quibbles would be that there's not much of the beef chorizo and it's not spread evenly, so that I had to excavate quite far to get a taste of it. Also, not enough sauce, and when I realized that I'd run out, I had to prioritize the burro parts and decided that the meat and the tortilla were the parts I'd swathe in sauce. Most of the potatoes and beans were left behind. The amount of cheese was fine for me, and I was happy there wasn't an orange pool of it. I suspect that anything wrapped in those thin-stretched, chewy flour tortillas and covered in that sauce would taste good!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Oh yes, the Oaxaca Special... the stuff of dreams. And yes, those tortillas are divine. Should you go back there (and I have a feeling you will so you can stuff your suitcase with 'em on the return trip), try a simple buttered tortilla. It's exactly what it sounds like, and it's wonderful.

                        PS: They cook the tortillas to order. When you get a dozen, they're still warm from the griddle. My roommates think that they sell tortillas in 11-packs. Simple truth of the matter is that at least one tortilla does not survive the journey home. Hell, usually one tortilla doesn't survive the journey out of the parking lot!

                        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                          Love your JK-dozen tortilla anecdote! Bakers dozen = 13 and JK-dozen = 11.

                          I did get a pack of tortillas on friday. I was concerned how they'd hold up since I didn't want to open the hot and steamy bag to let them cool down and possibly dry out. When I got them back home on Sunday night, I pulled one out for a midnight snack. They're so paper thin, they dry out in an instant once they're out of the plastic bag. Over the last couple days i've perfected my Carolina's tortilla resuscitation technique. 1) Brush with water on both sides all the way out to the edges. 2) Fold in half. 3) Microwave for 15 seconds. 4) Turn over and microwave for another 15 second. This can't quite get them back to the original chewiness, but does help a lot. I've been eating one with butter for breakfast.

                          I'm sure that few people will need this advice, since they probably gobble them up faster than I can!

                        2. re: Melanie Wong

                          In my experience in Phoenix, the "green" in a green corn tamale means that the main filling is green chilis. I have never heard of it being a reference to the corn itself.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            I just saw the green corn tamales... You are correct that green corn tamale traditionally means fresh corn tamale, and is therefore a seasonal item. However, around here green corn tamales are offered year-round as tamales with green chiles and often a little white cheese for filling.