When I first saw that a Mexica restaurant called Las Carretas was opening in Winter Park, I figured it was a reboot of a restaurant with the same name that occupied a building on South Semoran Boulevard in Orlando a half dozens years or so ago.
But apparently not. The Winter Park restaurant, whose name means the carts, is a first endeavor for the owners, I was told. And as a first effort they’re doing a fine job.
It occupies a spacious storefront in the University Plaza shopping mall at the corner of University Boulevard and Goldenrod Road. The menu is more extensive than it really needs to be but distinguishes itself from other local Mexican restaurants by being more authentically Mex with less Tex.
For an appetizer I ordered the tamales Mexicanos, which included three tamales – pork, chicken and cheese – with three distinct sauces – tomatillo, mole and cheese. The cornmeal was good and firm and the fillings were substantial. I would have been satisfied with this as a full entree instead of just a starter.
For my main course I selected the enchiladas de la casa, which are filled with cheese but come with your choice of being topped either by eggs or meat. I went with the steak and was surprised to find so much of it, so much so that it seemed the star of the dish and the enchiladas supporting actors.
My dining companion chose the carnitas tacos, which again had an impressive amount of meat (are you seeing a trend here?), served in soft corn tortillas topped with fresh cilantro, chopped red onions and accompanied by rice and frijoles de la olla, or beans in a pot. (Beans in a foam container, in this case, but really delicious.)
Las Carretas’ interior has a purplish hue and seating at high tops along the walls or at booths with startlingly high backs. There is a bar at the back of the restaurant and outdoor seating as well.
The website is easy to navigate and shows the multi-page menu clearly. However, there is no online ordering option – if you wish to order in advance you’ll need to call.
But the person I spoke to made the ordering process quite pleasant, and when I picked up my order it was neatly packaged and ready to be rung up.
A nice experience all around.