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Mini-Review: Carolina’s Mexican Cuisine in Dallas

carolina's 008I was in North Dallas this weekend and popped into Carolina’s Mexican Cuisine for a quick lunch. It’s a huge space with a ginormous patio. It was 12:45 p.m. and there were only three other tables, a reality that would scare the elastic-waist pantalones off of me if I was trying to open four restaurants within six months of each other.

Brisket tacos.
Brisket tacos.

Owner Carolina Galvan-Rodriguez is the former wife of MCrowd (Mi Cocina, Taco Diner) visionary Mico Rodriquez. She has set out on her own with big plans—earlier this year she announced she would be unveil two locations of Carolina’s (Rosemeade opened on June 7th; Central and Parker in Plano on June 26th) and two Taco Mundo retaurants (Preston Royal and Centreport in Fort Worth). Preston Royal was originally slated to open on July 24, while August 4th was the date for Centreport. According to Rodriquez’s publicist, Sharon Adams, both Taco Mundo locations have been delayed “due to construction.”

The food we tried at the Rosemeade location was delightful. A huge scoop of guacamole, warm fried chips, and salsa came immediately along with a nice stiff glass of freshly brewed tea with lime. We sampled brisket tacos—stringy in a good way soft meat laced with hot peppers and mild queso fresco was tucked into four fresh four-inch corn tortillas. Two pork tamales were covered in a chili gravy sauce and were served with fluffy Spanish rice, clean (not lard-ridden) refried beans, pico de gallo. Tex-Mex options offer mix and match enchiladas and sauces: Choose chicken, beef, or cheese enchiladas and cover with chili con carne, chili con queso, ranchera, spicy queso, sour cream sauce, or tomatillo.

We didn’t try one, but the margaritas are priced at $6.95. Anyone? Jump for more photos.

Pork tamales.
Pork tamales.
Chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce.
Chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce.
  • mark

    I’ve been to the one in Plano and thought it was good, but nothing special. I do like the straight forward approach of the food, But that is not going to work in Plano with a Pasado’s (YUK) across the freeway and a Chuy’s 2 doors down.

    That location on Rosemeade is cursed. I wish her luck, but I don’t believe her food will work in the burbs.

    Funny, I think I would drive to Dallas and eat at Carolina’s if it was in a dive location, but I won’t drive 2 miles to eat at one in Plano.

  • Matt

    Carolina’s chicken enchiladas with mole sauce. A nice diversion from the typical sour cream chicken enchiladas. Yum!

  • JoeB

    Mark is right. The Plano location is too close to a handful of other Mexican restaurants. Mark’s also correct about the Posado’s being yuk. There’s also an equally yuk Abuelo’s close by. But the Chuy’s is consistently awesome.

  • mark

    In defence of Carolina’s it is some of the best Tex Mex I’ve had in years. It’s just hard to compete when your potential clientel beleive Papasito’s is real Tex Mex.

    JoeB I left Abuelo’s off because that place has got to be closing very shortly.

  • luniz

    doesn’t look to impressive. I’ll avoid the crummy chains mentioned above and stick to Chito’s, or drive down to Oak Cliff.

  • NaughtyButNice

    I live close by and have been three times. Yes the margaritas are cheap but not great. The patio is nice. But there is never anyone there.

  • Worzel Gummidge

    What a boring sounding menu. Any of you guys ever been to Lito’s and seen the interesting and unusual stuff they have?

  • Marco Pierre

    I hate it that she didn’t stand by her husband (and I know that he had many problems), but is trying to profit by what she learned from him…

  • Deanne

    Nancy,It seems like you were more interested in how many places Caroline is opening when and why it is not open and how many she is opening in so many months. Now that your relationship with Dick from mcrowd is known all your reviews are highly suspicious. Marco Pierre if you know anything about Caroline,she has a long history of Great Uncles, Cousins and family that have been in the business for more then 50 years. The restaurant business is all she has been in before she married Mico,so it is the obvious choice for her.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Marco, we just ran a cover story on Mico and it sounds like she did stand by her husband. And she worked in his company. Why shouldn’t she go into business for herself?

    Deanne, Yes I am interested in ANYONE trying to open four restaurants at essentially one time in a down economy. To me, it doesn’t make business sense. My personal life has nothing to do with my professional judgments.

  • henry

    Mark, what is “….real Tex Mex”? Sounds like Tex-Mex snobbery…

  • Brandy

    Deanne- Back off Nancy. Her personal relationship has SQUAT to do with her writing about other restaurants. Puhlease.

  • Margie

    What’s that thing in the brisket taco? Looks kind of like a piece of bark or something…

  • Drew

    I hope that guac is truly tasty because it looks stale and nasty. Chipotle’s guac looks fresher than that stuff.

    The rest looks VERY greasy. Good Tex-Mex doesn’t have to be full of lard and grease to be good.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Margie, that is a roasted pepper caught in poor light. Sorry the guac looks funny, I am taking photography lessons to bring you better photos.

  • Vic

    Been there several times since it has opened. Very good, tasty, quality food, and the guac is great.

  • Matt

    Their mole is awesome, and I don’t even like mole. The patio is big and nice, and their margaritas are decent. I was also impressed to see so many beers on tap.

  • Stacey

    Been to the Dallas one quite a few times and there are more people there each time. I think people gave up on this area, but this restaurant should help it come back as the food and atmosphere are great. The briket tacos, mole anything, tortilla soup are all great and the drink special, the La Bomba, is wonderful! Give it a try and hit the patio while the weather is nice. Gotta be the best patio in North Dallas.

  • Annette

    These pictures do not do the food justice AT ALL. Nancy, I will help pay for some photography classes… this doesn’t give people who haven’t been there a very good first impression! I have been to the Rosemeade location several times and I love the food. Yes, it’s not busy, but we can change that! Some things I haven’t seen mentioned that are worth trying are the ceviche (awesome!), the tilapia (can’t remember the name of the dish right now, but it is SO good), tortilla soup… I could go on. They also have a great selection of beers on tap – and as quite a few other people have mentioned, the patio truly is a great patio.

  • lola

    Darling, Darling Nancy,

    YOU TRY OPENING ONE Restaurant and see what challenges will lie ahead for you. One should be complimented on the courage and tanacity to open 4 in this economy!!! Elastic pantalones???? You will need much more than that….try a large bank account, sedatives to get you through the sleepless nights as you lie awake thinking of all of the items needed for the next business day. Bills and payroll, rent and groceries, wine and liquor orders and oh….the employees showing up on time or at all…. One should consider all of that as well when making a review that could make or break a restauranteur….something you would never know NOTHING about!!!! I dare you to go out and work as hard as any restauranteur, open 4 while you’re at it and hope that your reviews come in well to assist in your growth and success!!! Carolina, Keep up the good work!!!!

  • allison

    I like your guacamole picture, Nancy. It’s a Ghostbusters blob with pig ears that’s smiling at me.

  • Deanne

    I am sorry I did not mean to get under anyones skin, I just feel since you were doing a “Mini Review” you used this platform to “Judge Professionally” which I feel did not have anything to do with an unbiased review,especially when you say you just dropped in because you were in North Dallas.
    That location is definitely not a drop in location. You are a FOOD CRITIC not a business analyst. You admit you took those awful pictures, do you think that is fair? That is why I feel you left your self open to the scrutiny of your review. I agree with Lola, it is hard enough you were out of line. You are someone’s employee, she is an entrepreneur.

  • Deanne

    Allison I just laughed so hard at your description! That was hilarious.

  • JoeB

    How are the pictures awful? They are photos of the food Nancy ate. That’s what the food looked like! It’s not Nancy’s fault if it didn’t look better. It’s the dude’s who put it on the plate. And who gives a rip what it looks like? It’s food. You eat it. Sheesh.

  • henry

    wow, this thing is getting ugly…IRS? I think this is a food blog…right?

  • Nancy Nichols

    Dear Lola,
    You say, “…try a large bank account, sedatives to get you through the sleepless nights as you lie awake thinking of all of the items needed for the next business day. Bills and payroll, rent and groceries, wine and liquor orders and oh….the employees showing up on time or at all…. One should consider all of that as well when making a review that could make or break a restauranteur….something you would never know NOTHING about!”

    For your information, I have opened a restaurant,worked in restaurants, and ran a catering business for years. I questioned Ms. Rodriguez’s decision making. You call it tenacity? I call it questionable judgment. Why not open one restaurant (in a dubious location) and get it going and under control before you start the next one. Perhaps she wouldn’t have as many sleepless nights, etc. In fact, you point out all of the problems that should be solved in one restaurant before you open another. (And there is no “n” in restaurateur.)

    I know enough about the restaurant business to know that a sound business plan is the key to success. I know the business is hard– I’ve worked in almost every phase of it. And I think my experience in the restaurant business gives me a unique perspective when I review. When the service is off, I may ask a busy boy what is going on in the kitchen. If the dishwasher or chef has just walked out the back door, I give the restaurant a break.

    Dear Deanne,
    I think you need your medication adjusted. You say, “That location is definitely not a drop in location.” What the hell does that mean? And “You are a FOOD CRITIC not a business analyst.” See above. I have watched restaurants open and close for many years, I have an educated opinion. Yes, I am someone’s employee and he pays me to write my opinion. There are a lot of entrepreneurs in serious debt right now. My point (opening four places at one is questionable) was made out of concern that Ms. Rodriguez might end up in the same place if she isn’t careful. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t make someone smart.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Dear Mad as a Wet Hen,
    Okay, who are you? The comment you posted is borderline libelous. [It has been taken down.]It sounds like you are privy (or act like you are privy) to information that I don’t have. In the future, please send comments like this to me as an email. If we want to keep the comments open here, we have to play nice.

  • El Problema

    Everyone just needs to relax here. These photos don’t seem all that bad to me (were they taken with a camera phone to be discreet?) Carolina is a wonderful woman, and her restaurant at Rosemeade and The ‘W’ is really, really fantastic. The patio is GORGEOUS, the food is spot on, I just wish, like many of you, that it was busier, but it is a HUGE space, and places that big seem to never seem full if that makes any sense. Great bar, 20 something beers on tap, and I love the fact that this is in no way a copy-cat MiCocina. I am looking forward to her Taco Mundo on Preston/Forest as we live right down the street. Nancy, can you do us all a favor and ask GG what he thinks of the place? I hear he has been spotted at the bar with his g/f on more than one occasion during HH. Just wondering what the competition thinks…

  • Mistie

    Nancy, in my humble opinion you should do your best to refrain from responding in such a defensive/aggressive manner to some of these posts — it makes you come across as very catty. For example, pointing out to ‘Lola’ that she mispelled a word while you do the same, “(opening four places at one is questionable)” is just plain silly. It is more than just a little obvious that you do, in fact, take a personal stance on this suject matter, whether you (or your alter egos) would like to admit it or not. You write things that are subjective, and people in turn (who buy your magazine BTW) have the right to thier own opinion as well. You are beginning to sound like the angry, drunk sounding, John Tesar in response to some of his critics, and that’s not a good thing.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Yow.Zah. A drunk John Tesar? Yes, Mistie you make great points. I take a personal stance when someone questions my background and I felt it was important to shed light on the fact that I was offering an educated opinion.
    As to the photos? I use a Nikon Cool Pix and I try to snap pictures when nobody is looking. I don’t style the food. What you see is what I get. This blog is like radio to me…a live stream of pictures, videos, and chatter. It isn’t perfect but…

  • Foodfan

    Wow! All this chatter made me have to go and try this place…
    First off, the atmosphere was very nice and with this weather, the patio was divine! The service was excellent and the food for the table (brisket tacos, ceviche, the carolina platter, mole chicken, and the chicken enchiladas) were all well above the norm. Shuck n Jive is next door and a tanning salon appears to be about to open next to that.

    I do think it’s funny, the whole “not a drop in location”…. I laughed and thought the same thing. What, do we all live in the same neighborhood as you, Deanne? Gee, let me guess what “bubble” you live in…lol

  • Deanne

    Foodfan-I am sure you know like so many people do, NN
    Is engaged to Dick Washburb who is one of the minority partners of Mcrowd who by the way were Carolina and her husbands ex Partners. I feel this Blog was unfair because of the relationship. I do not live in a bubble, but I do know that location unless you live in the area would be considered a destination location.

    Nancy- I would bet with your education that in the business of being a food critic that you would or should know Food shots are very hard ask a professional photographer which brings me to wonder why you were taking the pictures anyway. My understanding D sends a photographer to take the food shots. Do you usually take them yourself ? This is not just your ordinary Mini Review
    you were very clever and you know it. Your personal relationship and connection with Mcrowd clearly puts you in a “conflict of interest” position.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Deanne, I am engaged to nobody. I am married to my job. I have dated D-i-c-k for four years. I don’t feel any conflict because my frankly professional life eats up most of my time.Goodness, I liked the food–how is that a conflict of interest? We send photographers to take pictures of reviews that run in the magazine. I take 90 percent of the photos on this blog. And why is this review more than a mini-review. And yes I have to be clever to take food shots in a restaurant. Lighting is hard, the food isn’t styled, and I have to try and not be noticed. What you see is what I was served.
    Again, please tell me what you think is unfair?

  • henry

    nancy i love your blog…

  • The Truth

    Grammer lesson its anybody. Second of all the main chefs from Taco Diner and Mi Cocina work for Carolinas. Your saying that when it comes to the food you would rather have replacement players and not the superstars taking the last shot in the most important part of the business. I know its hard for you to say the food is better then MD Crowd but we all know this is a double edged sword for you Nancy. Have a nice day!

  • fan of Carolina’s Mexican Cuisine

    Nancy, your work in restaurants and the catering business must’ve worked out really well for you?? And why would you take pictures of food that you have already picked at and moved around, as evidenced by the guacamole photo? You are trying to slam Carolina’s in a very ‘covert’ way, and yes, I think we all know why. Do not pretend to keep your personal life and professional life separate, because it’s obvious what you are doing here.
    The food and the service at Carolina’s are both EXCELLENT, and for those who do not know Carolina and Mico started the first MiCocina together, and to repeat Deanne’s earlier post, Caroline has been in the restaurant business her entire life, along with most of her family and is not trying to profit by what she “learned from him.”
    I’ve eaten at Carolina’s about 10 times so far and absolutely LOVE the food. I’ll take Carolina’s over MiCocina any day! I don’t even mind driving 20 minutes to get there, but I can’t wait until Taco Mundo opens up even closer to me. Good luck, Caroline, and ignore the haters (Nancy) out there.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Dear fan of Carolina’s,
    Please tell me what I said in my review that was hateful.

    “The food we tried at the Rosemeade location was delightful. A huge scoop of guacamole, warm fried chips, and salsa came immediately along with a nice stiff glass of freshly brewed tea with lime. We sampled brisket tacos—stringy in a good way soft meat laced with hot peppers and mild queso fresco was tucked into four fresh four-inch corn tortillas.”

    Once again, show me one line of hate in my review.

  • fan of Carolina’s Mexican Cuisine

    Your underlying sarcasm, the “due to construction” quote, and the way you clearly played with your guacamole before taking that horrendous photo was enough to catch on to your little ploy, believe me. As many times as I’ve eaten there, the food (including the guacamole) always comes beautifully presented, not looking like a 5-yr old put it on the plate.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Well, Fan of Carolina’s, since you won’t answer my e-mail, I’ll respond to you one more time here. The due to construction quote came from Ms. Rodriguez’s publicist. I did not touch the quacamole before I took the picture. I have no bias toward this restaurant or Ms. Rodriguez. I still believe it is risky to open four restaurants at one time in a down economy. That is an opinion I would carry over to any restaurant.