Please note that La Carreta is no longer in operation in Lakeland.
My wife and I recently had dinner at La Carreta Mexican Restaurant on South Kentucky Avenue in downtown Lakeland. This was our second visit together. We tend to eat earlier than the crowds. Still, it felt odd that the hostess seemed surprised to see us at about 5:10PM, despite the restaurant being open 11AM-9PM on weekdays. La Carreta is still a fairly new restaurant (I believe they opened in 2015), so the decor is all spotless and contemporary. The restaurant was playing music that was a little too loud for us to have an easy conversation.
Our server didn’t seem especially enthusiastic but was friendly enough. We immediately received the traditional chips and salsa. I ordered enchiladas poblanos – two enchiladas (cheese for me, but other varieties are available) with rice and refried beans. The enchiladas were topped with a mole type sauce. It was tasty and not too spicy. I really wanted enchiladas with traditional red enchilada sauce, but when the server told me their red sauce was like salsa, I declined. Sadly, that was not correct. However, the food did taste very good, I especially liked the refried beans. I had a tamarind Jarritos, my default Mexican restaurant beverage when horchata is not available.
My wife had Pachuca’s combination – an enchilada (beef) with the red sauce that I originally wanted, a chimichanga, and a taco, with refried beans and rice. She especially like the chimichanga, fried but not too greasy. And she did like the red enchilada sauce, good flavor and not too salty. (!) To drink, Diet Coke and Negra Modela, a dark Mexican beer, first brewed in Mexico by immigrants from Austria. With tip, our total came to almost $38.
My wife has been to La Carreta several times for work functions and likes the restaurant considerably. If I’m being honest, I’m not a big fan myself. The food is quite good, but that is true of a lot of Polk County restaurants. And they are in a splendid downtown Lakeland location. I just don’t get the impression that La Carreta is trying very hard. There are plenty who disagree with me, so I’m not suggesting you remove it from your list of dining-out options. I just can’t say I’m enthusiastic about going back.
If we’ve inspired you to visit La Carreta, or if you have already been and want to share your experience, please do so via the Comments section below. And if you have Polk County restaurant tips to share, we would love to hear from you through the Contact Us page. Thanks for visiting and happy eating!