The food at La Carreta is boring. It’s the same dishes, made the same way, as every other Mexican restaurant in town. Seriously, Tex-Mex can have change, but no one wants to take the reins on this endeavor. They did have one or two unique dishes on the menu, but they didn’t catch my attention. I ended up ordering a chimichanga. It was tasty, but wasn’t unique at all. There wasn’t anything on the menu that made me want to come back. The food was tasty, but didn’t taste any different than La Hacienda for example, and that place is cheaper. It’s a $2 difference with the lunch order of chimichangas, so what would make me want to go to La Carreta? The chips and salsa were plentiful, which is a good thing. I’m giving them good points for making sure they were generous with them. Other than that, there wasn’t anything that made me want to go back.
This was one of the redeeming aspects of the experience. The atmosphere was very nice. The place is spacious and a very fun place to be. The restaurant contains a lot of earthy colors around the dining room, but has a few modern flairs as well. There was a good bit of natural lighting as well. That’s always a nice touch. They did a remodel a while ago, according to some of my friends who’ve been there before, and it apparently looks much nice than it used to. Props to them for making improvements. The only complaint is that there were TVs in the main dining room. I can’t stand that. TVs should only be in the bar, in my opinion. Having them in the main dining room is distracting.
During a lunch time rush on a weekday, the kitchen has to be on point. Many employees are only allotted one hour to eat and get out, so kitchens cannot take their time on this. Sadly to say, La Carreta didn’t quite cut it this time. It wasn’t terrible, keep that in mind, but we still ran over our hour of time for the meal. Meal pacing is very important, and the kitchen didn’t hit the mark for this one. It took about 25-30 minutes from order placed to food coming out. And on top of that, some food came out before the others. I cannot stand that. If you’ve read my reviews, you know that I hate it when a kitchen sends something out one at a time, so this is a definitely issue for me.
This was another bad part of the experience. The service at La Carreta wasn’t quite up to snuff. Our server was slow, didn’t listen well, and didn’t talk loud enough for everyone to hear. He was nice though, I will give him that. He smiled and did his best, I could tell that he was hustling, but that didn’t necessarily make the experience any better. I wasn’t impressed. I appreciate the fact that he was trying though. The thing to keep in mind is that first impressions are everything. I’m a restaurant critic, so I will definitely give this place another chance, but some people won’t even do that. Some people will write off a place altogether if the service isn’t good. So, someone who isn’t me might not go back to La Carreta ever again if they didn’t enjoy the service. Word of mouth is everything in this town as well.
Look, was the experience at La Carreta terrible? No. It was not. But was it an experience that I want to talk about and tell my friends about? No. It’s just another typical Mexican restaurant in Lafayette offering sub-par food for a little more than average prices. The drink specials look to be the main reason for people going there, but other than that, it’s nothing to write home about. Give it a shot, and maybe you’ll like it, but don’t expect something extraordinary.