Not too long ago, I was thrilled to find out that my favorite little Mexican dive restaurant, Carolina's, has opened up a new location on the northwest corner of Cactus and Cave Creek. I am delighted to report that all of the food is every bit as good as at the original 12th Street and Mohave location. Enchiladas come on great tortillas, napped with a luscious red sauce redolent of chiles and spices that swirls all kinds of great flavors all over your mouth. Carolina's signature flour tortillas are made the old-fashioned way (with lard), thin enough to see light through, but still resilient enough to hold up through a juicy burrito. Speaking of burritos, the Oaxaca Special burrito is worth a try, filled with house-made chorizo, potatoes, refried beans, and cheese. The red beef tamales are as close to perfect as I've ever tasted, with ethereally light, fluffy masa that complements the filling rather than overtaking it. Drink selections include both Coke and Pepsi products just like the original location, but the north location includes horchata, jamaica, and orange whip. While none of these are made in-house, all make much better complements to dinner than the sodas do.
Every time I come in here, I'm tempted to just point at the menu and say "I'll have one of each, please". I think the best thing to do is find a friend or two to split dinner with, get a Oaxaca burrito, a #1 combo (beef taco, cheese enchilada, rice and beans), and a tamale (or two), and dive in. Possibly the best part of Carolina's is its extreme bang for the buck. The most expensive combo on the menu is $5.50. The vast menu sampler I described will only set you back $8.45.
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