Plant yourself in Phoenix and you can hit a dirt trail within a a short time going either direction of the compass. Do that and you’re going to want to check out Carolina’s Mexican Food. It’s nothing to look at from the outside, but it’s what they’re serving inside that will make you want to check it out.

The original restaurant was founded in 1968 by namesake Carolina Valenzuela, who still runs the kitchen. Since 1986, it has been in a building that was once a coin-operated laundry and a grocery store. It’s pock marked with bullet holes, and there’s heavy iron grating on the windows, but for about $5.00 or less you’ll get some of the best home made Mexican food you’ll find north of the border. How about a chicken enchilada for $2.50 or a red chili beef and bean burrito for $3.95? You won’t find those prices at a chain restaurant and the food won’t be as good.

Carolina also has two other locations — one north of Scottsdale and the other in Peoria, a suburb northwest of Phoenix. But both are in less colorful neighborhoods. Give it a try!

Carolina's Mexican food