Carlos & Maria’s Mountain Mexican

Winter Park’s restaurant options include several Mexican places

When my husband and I are somewhere and it’s time to eat, Mexican food is his number-one choice and an acceptable fallback for me. We spent Labor Day weekend in Winter Park, and when it came time for dinner, we decided on Carlos & Maria’s — one of the resort town’s two pre-dominant cuisines (the other being pizza).

It is located on the upper level of Cooper Creek Square, a retail and restaurant complex perpendicular to U.S. 40, which also is Winter Park’s main street. The restaurant is small, with just a handful of tables and a tiny bar in a back corner. Families abounded, and we were happy to be seated as far as possible from the party with happy, noisy school-age children who operated at high volume. Two families were near our table — one with two boys who were mostly interested in their Game-Boys or whatever electronics kids play with these days and the other with a delightful baby and two adult-acting teenage girls.

Nothing was knockout delicious, and both of our entrees came with the north-of-the-border standard sides of refritos, rice and some shredded iceberg lettuce. The food was reasonably priced for a resort town, though hardly memorable. In fact, if I weren’t writing this within 48 hours of eating there, I’d forget what we ate.

The waitress bought out the requisite chips and salsa, and the menu warned that only one basket was free with the meal. A second would have costs $2.50.
We both ordered one of several margaritas on the menu. "Salt?" asked the waitress. "No thanks, no salt," we said. They came with salt anyway.
Very smooth but very thin chile con queso. Every chip-load dripped onto the table between faux molcajete bowl and mouth.
A two-item combo plate with a chile relleno, a beef taco, refried beans, ride and lettuce.
Poblano chile stuffed with chicken and topped with melted cheese, plus the same refried beans, rice and lettuce that come with every dish -- here and in many a Mexican restaurants.

Price check: Aperitivos (appetizers), $2.50-$8.50; cominaciones (combination plates), two items, $9.95, three items, $12.95; platillos Mexicanos and expecialidades de las casa (Mexican plates and house specialties), $10.25-$16.95, including rice and refried beans; burritos, $10.95-$13.95.
Carlos & Maria's on Urbanspoon

3 thoughts on “Carlos & Maria’s Mountain Mexican”

  1. I don’t think it’s so much a place to stay away from but more to go with realistic expectations. The food was quite OK, the maragaritas good (even w/ the salt that we didn’t really want) and if we had gone later in the evening, the kid population would have been less.

  2. It was typical for a Colorado Mexican restaurant-good, not great. There just don’t seem to be many really good ones. I like Deli Cioso in Longmont, and Ajuua better than most, and some of the hole-in-the wall places are above average. The worst are the chains and pretentious/yuppified places like the Rio. The Rio may have great margs, but most of their so-called Mexican food is, to me, a cruel facsimile of Mexican food. I long for a great restaurant that features more than frontier fare. There are at least a couple dozen distinct regional Mexican cuisines, but all we ever get is Tex-Mex. I do adore that, when it’s done well, but I really wish that some of these restaurateurs had a bit more imagination…

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