Mexican Food Nationally Recognized for Excellence and more!
If you have ever wanted to check out a place that has been featured on the Food Network, there’s one not far from just about anywhere in Iowa. La Carreta in Marshalltown was recognized by the Food Network for having the best burritos in the country back in 2019.
The owners of Kula’s in Walker, IA decided to ride along with me on a bit of a road trip. We met up with some mutual biker friends of ours at a little place called La Carreta in Marshalltown. Keith Paulson, who we first met at our review of the Hilltop near East Dubuque brought some friends on a 180-mile round trip just to try the food, and Steve (a buddy of mine from the area who suggested the place) showed up too.
History you notice, right away
The first thing you notice when you get here is that somebody, a very long time ago, decided to drop a Pizza Hut in the middle of nowhere. There are literally no other businesses close by, and this place is just sitting by itself on a long stretch of highway.
La Carreta took that old Pizza Hut building and turned it into a really nice Mexican restaurant. I was really impressed with the outdoor patio area that was surrounded by brick columns, wrought iron, and really cool outdoor lighting.
A personalized "Taco Buffet"
When I arrived, the owner, Alfonso, brought out what I can only describe as a taco buffet and laid it out on our table. Some of the other guys had already eaten burritos and other things by the time I got there, and I was admiring the pictures of the food that had already been consumed (but more on that in a bit).
Our taco buffet had birria tacos, pork belly tacos, brisket tacos, tacos al pastor, chips with salsa, chorizo queso dip, and plenty of drinks. Locals say the place is famous for its Margaritas. My dinner companions who tried some were able to confirm.
Unique taste? No problem.
The one word I would use to describe this place is variety.
If you want Americanized Mexican food that you are most likely familiar with, you can get that. If you want something completely authentic that you would find in Mexico, you can get that too.
If you are into hipster food and want some hipster tacos, they can hook you up. If you want salsa that is completely mild or salsa that has quite a bit of kick, you can have your choice.
"Nobody really gets left out here based on preferences. If you want it, ask for it, and there’s a good chance their great cooks can whip it up for you."
-Will Carter, The Ambassador of Flavors
My only disappointment...
I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get to try the food that the other guys ate before I arrived. The pictures looked amazing, but I filled up on tacos and didn’t want to order more food, knowing that I couldn’t possibly eat it. I’m still thinking about those pictures a day later and honestly, may make a trip back just to see what I missed out on.
2 out of 3 Bikers Recommend the Steak Burrito
Keith and “Bull” from the Red Knights International Motorcycle Club said they had the steak burrito and that it was really, really good. They both had been to Mexico before and Bull said this is about as close to Authentic Mexican food as you can get in Iowa.
Steve had his personal favorite, the Burrito Mixto, a chicken and beef stuffed burrito, smothered in red sauce, covered with cheese, and served with beans and rice.
The perfect stop for bikers.
"This place is perfect for bikers as either a target destination or a stop along a ride."
-Keith Paulson, President, Red Knights International Motorcycle Club, Iowa Chapter
I know I personally hate the drive from Cedar Rapids to Des Moines in a car, and I will definitely remember from now on that there’s a good place to stop and relax along the way. There’s a huge parking lot, and you will have easy access to Highway 30. In fact, click here if you want to find La Carreta Mexican Grill from wherever you are.
Since the building itself is so secluded, it feels like you are completely off the grid, but with access to a full-service Mexican restaurant.
There aren’t any neighbors to complain about loud pipes, so you could probably rev up your engines and even do burnouts, and nobody would care (but you might want to check with Alfonso first).
The outdoor seating area is perfect for people who crave the experience of spending time outside in the sunshine and fresh air, surrounded by green shrubs and trees. I was told that they even open an outdoor grill that serves authentic street tacos with handmade tortillas on the weekends but didn't get to experience this myself.
I could definitely see myself spending a weekend afternoon enjoying some drinks on their patio. The atmosphere is very inviting and hell, they also have miniature Mexican football for you to play (if you can find it). Here's a hint:
Interesting closing note, the owner of La Carreta is also responsible for the “No Love, No Tacos” concept that got national recognition a while back. If you are interested in finding out more about this topic, you can visit his website at https://www.nolovenotacos.org for more information.
A note from Will Carter, The Ambassador of Flavors:
“This is one of many biker bar motorcycle-friendly restaurant reviews I will do on a weekly basis. The goal is to promote local bars as destinations for motorcycle enthusiasts. These reviews are part of an online resource created to help bikers find bars with good food and entertainment.”
More about La Carreta
Alfonso says that the secret to many of the amazing flavors at La Carreta is that the food isn't just made with fresh ingredients, it's made from scratch from authentic family recipes.
If you're not in the mood for Mexican-inspired food, check out their "secret menu" that even most locals don't know about! Just ask for what you're hungry for such as...
Philly Cheese Sandwiches
Homemade Chicken Tenders
Loaded Cheese Fries
Regular Fries/Sweet Potato Fries
Eat what you want, how you want!
La Caretta puts their patrons first, every meal, every time. With multiple dining options including carry-out and Delivery with Door Dash, you can eat in style where you like! La Carreta even offers a Seasonal Outdoor Street Taco Cabana, plenty of indoor seating, and even a great outdoor patio space for those warm evenings you want to dine under the stars!