Hispanic Home Cooking: Carmen’s Taqueria

A sign of a healthy and growing community is an ever increasing number of places to eat. In a community with ethnic diversity you will find restaurants that reflect that diversity. Now, I’m not talking about your average ethnic restaurants. You will have those even without a multicultural environment. No, what I am talking about is the good stuff, not what comes frozen on the same truck that goes to every restaurant in town. Nope, what I’m talking about is home cooking.

There is a large and growing Hispanic population in Rutherford County and the restaurants are starting to reflect it. Now, I’m not knocking the big Mexican food restaurant chains, but if you have ever read my articles before, you know when it comes to food, I look for the path less traveled. I prefer the mom-and-pop place to the standardized fare of any restaurant row. I look for home cooking, the meals that stem from grandmothers and great-grandmothers, handed down from generation to generation, put on a big plate and stuffed into my smiling gullet.

Carmen’s Taqueria, located at 206 W. Northfield (in the old Big Apple Bagel building), is just that sort of restaurant. The restaurant is owned by Carlos Ramirez and his wife Carmen, who the restaurant is obviously named after. By his own admission, Carlos has found a large Hispanic and an ever growing local market for his cooking.

Diners are served three different salsas at Carmen's Taqueria. Two of these are very hot; it can be fun guessing which ones.

Before deciding to open his own restaurant, Carlos worked for many years as a baker. He brought his love for baking to the restaurant business. Carmen’s is the only Mexican restaurant that I know of that bakes fresh bread every day. Not only is the bread freshly made, everything on the menu is. Nothing here is the standard Mexican restaurant fare we have grown so accustomed to. Everything including the salsa, (you get three different ones as soon as you sit down), a large variety of tortillas and all the desserts are made fresh daily. Carlos is proud of his desserts and smiles when he talks about them. The dessert menu features Tres Leches Cake, which translates to Three Milk Cake. As of this writing, I haven’t tried the Tres Leches, but it would be safe to assume that I will have by the time this goes to print! Along with the Three Milk Cake, you can get fried plantains covered in chocolate. This I have tried and it’s wonderful. If you have never tried plantains, the best description would be bananas with attitude. Another dessert that’s new to me is the Chocoflan or Chocolate Flan (I must try that one too!).

When you eat at Carmen’s, you will notice just from reading the menu that this place is a little different. All the foods you find at the big chain restaurants are there but they are served a little differently. Carlos is from Puebla, Mexico, and he describes the food as southern Mexican cooking. The recipes are his mother’s and his wife’s and have a flare that is indicative of the southern regions of Mexico.

Carlos wants to appeal to local tastes as well as those from his homeland.

“Come by and taste the difference from other Mexican restaurants. You’ll love the food and the prices are very competitive,” Carlos said.

The torta is a large sandwich, on fresh bread, stuffed with veggies, cheese, sauce, peppers and your choice of meat, for only $6.

Not only are the prices very reasonable, there are daily specials that are discounted up to 50 percent. There is also a discount for MTSU students, live music every Friday and Saturday night and domestic and imported beer. Another aspect that sets Carmen’s apart from the others is a breakfast menu. Carmen’s opens at 11a.m., but the breakfast menu is available all day. This is something else I must experience because I always figured breakfast was about the same everywhere. I am looking forward to being educated about breakfast south of the border. It is my guess that their breakfast burrito will be vastly superior to the one I usually wolf down on the way to work.

So next time you want something other than the standard Mexican restaurant chain food, give the southern Mexican home cooking at Carmen’s Taqueria a try. If you see me, let’s compare notes on the Tres Leches Cake or breakfast.

Carmen's Taqueria on Urbanspoon

A beautiful taco salad


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  • Desiree B-lev

    Carmen’s taqueria is the best Mexican food in Murfreesboro. I have lived here for 3 years, and spent all of it looking for good mexican food. I am from California, so I know what is delicious, and Carmen’s is delicious.

  • Good Diner

    Carmen’s has good food but BE CAREFUL on Wednesday Bargain Days, when anything on their menu is 1/2 price from 12 to 1 and 4 to 5. You MUST ARRIVE AFTER 12 (or 4), eat within the hour, AND PAY BEFORE THE HOUR IS UP, or they will not give you the 1/2 price. They don’t tell you this, and it isn’t posted anywhere, so be aware.

  • Brandon

    Probably the worst service of any restaurant I have eaten at in Murfreesboro. We have eaten at Carmen’s Tacqueria 5 times. I am going to go ahead and say we are 20% tippers whether the service is good or bad, so our service didn’t stink because we are bad tippers or are rude. 3 times we have eaten there, we have had to have our bill corrected because items weren’t taken off. We go there soley because the food is good, so we tend to overlook the management and service. Tonight, we went to Carmen’s for my wife’s birthday. We were going to Camino Real, as we live on the other side of Murfreesboro. I found a coupon in Value Mint (a coupon book you find in Kroger and other stores) for FREE Cheese Dip AND Guacamole, so I asked my wife if she would rather go there. She hesitated because of previous slow service, but said that would be fine. We came in the restaurant and waited 5 minutes for someone to come over and ask about drinks. We then waited 10 minutes for someone to bring simple drinks to our table ( a Coke and two glasses of water) We ordered the cheese dip and guacamole when the drinks came. It took about 10 more minutes to bring out simple guacamole and cheese dip. Our server did not take our order until about 20-25 minutes after we came in the door. It was almost as if they didnt want to come to our table. The food was great, but I had to get up and ask for more chips from the kitchen. This isnt the first time I have had to go to the kitchen to ask for something. I ordered a combination meal that included a soft drink. I told the waitress that my daughter could have my soft drink as I drank water. When the bill came, I handed the server my coupon for the guacamole and cheese dip and asked let her know the drink had not been removed from the bill. She stated that she charged my daughter for the drink because she ordered separate. I told her it didnt matter who drank the drink because it came with my meal, and I told her my intentions of giving it to my daughter when I ordered. I also noticed that the cheapest of the appetizers had been removed, but not both. I told her that the coupon was for both the cheese dip AND the guacamole as it plainly states on the ticket. She and her manager refused to take both off, even though it was the offer on their coupon. I let her know we would not be back. There was no posting on their door or anywhere stating they were not honoring the coupon they placed in Value Mint coupon book. This is the second time in a row we have had issues with our bill. The manager (possible owner) should have come to our table to talk with us, and let us know it was a misprint (MAYBE?), however, he left it to the server to come over and tell us the coupon would not be honored as it was written, which is undoubtedly horrible management. We tipped $5 on a $24 tab despite the poor service, It will take a lot for us to go back. A $3 management call cost the owner ill will with a customer and plenty of bad publicity.

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