$13 at La Carreta Mexican Restaurant
What kind of meal can $13 buy you in restaurant-crazy Houston? We're going to find out. Armed with just $13, Houston Press staffers and freelancers are hitting the streets and eating. The rules are simple: It's $13, flat. Not $13 and change, not just under $14. $13, that's it.
Olivia Flores Alvarez starts us off:
: La Carreta Mexican Restaurant, 208 E. 20th Street in the Heights, 713-862-0685
What $13 gets you: Quite a bit, actually. You can either get a light lunch for two, or a whomp 'em big dinner. Today I opt for the whomp 'em big dinner and start off with a small order of guacamole ($1. 80 and creamy), chips and hot sauce (free), and a fresh lime-aid ($1.50, just the right balance of tart and sweet). Then comes Dinner #2, a crispy beef taco, a bean tostada, two chicken enchiladas, rice and beans ($6, just like momma used to make). My total is $9.30, plus tax and tip, it all comes to $12 even. I resist the urge to break my $13 limit and buy a Mexican candy for $1.50. (There are rules, after all.)
Battle of the Piney Woods: SFA vs. SHSU
TicketsSat., Oct. 1, 3:00pm
University of Houston Cougars Football vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane Football
TicketsSat., Oct. 15, 11:00am
Rice University Owls Football vs. UTSA Roadrunners Football
TicketsSat., Oct. 15, 6:00pm
Rice University Owls Football vs. Prairie View A&M University Football
TicketsSat., Oct. 22, 2:30pm
Most other plates are at the $6 and $7 mark, with several at $5. Lunch for two is not just possible, it's easy. Burritos are $2 each, and very filling. Even if you both order two, that's still just $8. Add a couple of sodas (La Carreta offers Mexican sodas in addition to American ones), and it's $11. There's a special every day, usually around $5 - chile relleno, tamale dinner, taco salad and dinner combos are all regularly featured.
Recommended? Yes. This isn't your fancy, nu-wave fusion cooking. It's a simple menu with Tex-Mex standards, all decidedly homemade. The staff is attentive but doesn't hover. This is mostly a family restaurant, with a sizable non-Hispanic crowd (mostly yuppies from the Heights and Montrose).
New management took over La Carreta a little over a year ago and the new crew started to make immediate changes, adding more items to the menu and more tables to the dining room. Prices went up a quarter here and there, but even now the most expensive items top out at $7. Thankfully, the food stayed the same. The changes have paid off, there are bigger and bigger crowds coming in on weekends. There aren't any lines - yet, but the restaurant is just about there.
Bonus point: La Carreta is in the dry part of the Heights, so there are no margaritas, no Dos Equis, no loud drunks at the next table. -- Olivia Flores Alvarez
With apologies to our pals at Seattle Weekly, from whom we totally stole this idea.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.