Our Most Entrenched Habit

Tom Fitzmorris August 30, 2019 05:00 Dining Diary

The Dining Diary has been such an integral part of this publication that it is hard to believe that we have not reported on a place so woven into the fabric of our family as La Caretta. Maybe it’s so personal that we don’t even count it. Or maybe it’s because it is a thing with the Marys, and I am invited only occasionally. But I am still sometimes invited, so today is the day I write about it.

The evolution of La Caretta in our family dining experiences is clear. First there was the queso, which was so very predictable with the Marys that the servers just brought it to the table with the requisite chips and salsa and their iced teas. We love this queso, or choriqueso. The chorizo is ground, plentiful, and mighty tasty. We even like the little puddle of grease around the edges of its cast iron dish. It is as consistent as anything we’ve ever gotten anywhere. Until the day owner Saul Rubio opened a La Caretta on Magazine in the Irish Channel. It became a little more complex then, and that version was incorporated throughout the chain. Both are excellent and have, over the years, become the standard by which we judge all such cheese dips. There has been a shake-up in the chip world at La Caretta. This is not a good development. Our biggest complaint about this chain is that sometimes the ingredients are not what they should be, and the chips appear to have gotten a downgrade.

The salsa at La Caretta is also our barometer for this staple in Tex-Mex places. It is a fresh salsa, and on the thick side. The guacamole here is not very good unless you order it tableside. That is completely different and very good. There is an avocado salad that is excellent. The cilantro dressing is so tangy and delicious Saul should bottle it. We have eaten our way around this menu, but we tend to keep going back to the same things.

Mary Leigh ventures out the most, moving between taquitos, flautas, and nachos. Mary Ann usually quits after queso, but has moved to tacos with lettuce in lieu of tortillas. And she likes the tamales, which tend to be small. And she was hooked on Chipotle Shrimp for awhile. There was a time when ML liked the chimichanga, which is not fried. 

There are more complex plates on the menu, and even a few creative ones. I have lately become attached to “Saul’s Favorite,” which amounts to steak and eggs. The steak is grilled with onions and there are two eggs over easy.

And no one gets fajitas, not that they aren’t good.

La Caretta