Monday, July 01, 2002

Welcome to Jeeem & Louie's Weekly Restaurant Review!

Today we are reviewing:

La Carreta Mexican Restaurant

545 Daniel Webster Highway, Manchester , New Hampshire

I don't know about Louie, but I needed a change. The Chinese food, seafood platters and same-ole-same-ole was getting to me. So, off we went to the big city of Manchester. Having lived in Philadelphia and frequented both sides of the Delaware River, I became sick-to-death of highway tolls. So, I will go well out of my way to avoid the toll on I-93 heading into Manchester. I took the back way, on Route 3A and somehow had it in my head that Route 3A was the Daniel Webster Highway. By the time Louie and I had reached the Amoskeag Bridge, I knew we had gone too far.

I'm not your "typical" male who is beneath asking for directions, so Louie and I stopped at a local gas station to find out how to get to Daniel Webster Highway. A rather hard looking woman gave us directions in a rapid fire fashion and gave us a look that said, "Ask me again and I'll kill you," so we left and followed her directions as best we could remember. Once we had crossed the border into Goffstown, I decided to turn around. We wandered around Manchester for a bit and finally got back on track. I should mention the fact that while transporting my cohort-in-crime and getting ourselves lost, I had to endure an almost constant barrage of verbal Italian abuse due entirely to my lack of direction and his immediate hunger pangs.

Finally we found it. We were quickly seated and given menus, a basket of warm tortilla chips and fresh salsa. Yum, yum...I love chips and salsa and especially salsa that is fresh and not the bottled kind. This salsa had the distinct taste of tomatillo, which is my favorite. I decided quickly on the sampler plate, but Louie was lost. He was frowning into the menu and didn't know what most of the terms meant. I assisted him by explaining in detail what the various terms meant, such as burrito, fajita, enchilada, and the like. Finally, Louie settled on the T-bone steak, refried beans and Spanish rice.

Our drinks arrived (I ordered a coke and Louie got his decaf) and our very Spanish waiter, speaking very broken English, took out his little order booklet. I ordered my sampler plate, which comes complete with enchilada, Chile relleno, taco, tostada, burrito and fajita, with a side of refried beans and Spanish rice and being that I was starving and my eyes are typically bigger than my stomach, I ordered an appetizer of grilled shrimp salad.

When it came to Louie's turn to order, we ran into a problem.

Louie says, "I want the T-bone."

Very Spanish waiter says, "Ah SeƱor, wheeech teeh-bone chu waant?"

You see, there were about five different types of T-bone steak on the menu but Louie couldn't understand what the waiter was saying. So, I told the waiter in Spanish, to wait and I determined what Louie wanted and then told the waiter. The waiter was happy, I was happy and Louie...well, Louie was confused.

Minutes later the salad came out. There was plenty of grilled shrimp on a bed of shredded lettuce, carrot, tomato slices, cucumbers and onion. This was absolutely delicious! All the while Louie and I both were chowing down on the tortilla chips and salsa until a nubile cherub #1 stole away with our salsa container! I flagged down nubile cherub #2 and acquired more salsa and we continued to dig into the salad and chips. The grilled shrimp was out of this world! I highly recommend it. Louie liked it too.

The decor is circa 1900's Mexico with an equal mixture of sombrero hats, Aztec type paintings and the usual Mexican decor. A soft din of Mariachi Music was beating away in the background. Louie and I munched and ogled the young waitresses until our entree came out. His T-bone was served on a huge plate fit for a king and me? I received two plates for my meal! Yum. We both dug in and all was well except that I must say the food was not piping hot and they used way too much hamburger in their burrito and tostada dishes. This is Tex-Mex to me and although the review I read previously was a rave about this place, stating that their food was authentic Mexican, I must differ. I grew up eating meals in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and this is not authentic...but it was fairly good and the portions were sizable.

Their refried beans were just as I like them. Flavored with either bacon drippings or lard, but creamy and very flavorful. The rice was packaged brand. Louie and I ate until I thought I'd explode and then, naturally, I ordered a plate of ice cream and another coke. Louie says his T-bone was good and overall he thought the place was okay.

Now, hours later, the beans are doing their, I'm hammering at these keys to get this review done so I can run to the bathroom. I gotta rate La Carreta (The Cart) a solid ***** five stars, if only on the proportions and the cost alone. Good quality for the money and a reasonably pleasant atmosphere.

No review next week as I'm going on a camping trip for the forth of July. The weather is finally getting warmer up here and it's about time I get back into the camping swing. Hope you all enjoyed the review this week. Take care and see you soon!



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