After going out to grocery shop (always a joyous occasion in my book) Mat and I were walking back to the car, discussing dinner plans when I glanced over yonder at the new Mexican restaurant that had just opened up on the new strip, next to Ledo Pizza.  It’s called Carmona’s Cocina, and I’d been eyeballing it ever since the sign went up.  I remarked to Mat that we should give it a shot.  He paused, agreed, and we put the groceries in the car to walk across and get some chow.

The first thing I noticed about the restaurant was the interior.  It’s nice!  It has a rustic feel to it, with a number of tables surrounded by pleather and wood chairs.  It looked like someone built these chairs by hand, made with left over wood and branches.  Sounds weird, but it’s rather charming.  The interior was decorated with paintings and artworks of a (dher) Mexican theme, but instead of the typical pictures of a Mexican man in a sombrero strumming a guitar, there are elaborate scenes of Mexican society, children playing, desert scapes, and so on.  There were even some really neat statues of what appears to be upper-crust aristocratic women, but upon closer inspection, they’re skeletons!  I love anything about Dia de los Muertos, so I was tickled pink by these accents.

However, I was kind of expecting a full-service restaurant.  This place, while charming and kitschy in a cute way, had a set up almost exactly like Chico’s Fat or Qdoba.  That is, walk up to the counter, order something, they make it, wrap it, and put it on a tray for you.  You get a drink, fill it from the fountain, and go eat.  I was kind of disappointed, but I vowed to continue my quest for chow.

Mat walked up and got a burrito with steak.  The girl behind the counter was very nice, and explained anything on the mu and answered out questions with a smile.  When she started to assemble Mat’s burrito, he paused and asked if he could get black beans instead of rice.  She replied they only had re-fried beans, so Mat opted out of the beans all together.  He got a fountain drink along with his meal.

I ordered a shredded chicken chimichanga, which is basically a burrito, deep fried.  I got rice and re-fried beans on the side, along with some lettuce and sour cream, to go with my chimichanga.  The meals can with (plastic) silverware wrapped in a napkin, and a little bag of corn tortilla chips with salsa.  Nice touch!  I whipped out my iPhone and snapped a few pictures.

And now for the taste test.

I was disappointed.  My chimichanga was overbearingly salty, and I’m a salt fiend.  I love salt.  It goes on everything.  But this chimichanga was too salty, even for me.  I ate about half, even trying to see if I could mellow it out with some sour cream (which didn’t work.)  Ultimately I asked Mat if he wanted it.  He offered to let me try his burrito, and it was okay.  A lot better than my chimichanga.  He tried my meal, and after chewing for a bit, said he understood why I thought it was rather salty.

I got a to-go box, and Mat and I made our way out.  We agreed that Carmona’s Cocina was simply another burrito joint.  It looked promising, but it simply didn’t measure up.  Hell, I vastly prefer Qdoba to Carmona’s, especially because Qdoba makes a mean veggie burrito, but that’s another review for another time.

I give Carmona’s Cocina two and a half stars.  One star for atmosphere (I wish I had taken my camera to take pictures), one star for pretty good service, but only half a star for lackluster cuisine.

Carmona's Cocina Mexicana on Urbanspoon

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