Cuisine – Mexican
Approx 4099 W. Broad (in the strip mall at the corner of W. Broad & Georgesville Rd.)
We’d been to Restaurant Karla (then called Cenduria Karla) when it was located on Sullivant Ave., and liked it a lot. More recently, Lydia from Los Potosinos suggested that she thought it was the best sit-down Mexican restaurant in town. Basically, we had high expectations for this place… and that can often lead to a bit of a letdown, even when good.
But not in this case.
As you might guess from the photo above, these guys are in transition. They’ve only recently moved into their new space and haven’t yet sprung for appropriate exterior signage. Look for the banged up El Huarache sign, and you’ll find them below it.
Belying any expectations gleaned from the exterior, the interior of this place is clearly no afterthought. It’s quite the elaborate set-up, actually, including a performance stage and what we took to be a small dance floor. We assume it was largely inherited from the former tenants, but nonetheless, it’s a surprisingly complete and highly detailed space with a caballero theme and loads of Mexican character.
Service is similarly well thought-through. Our server was efficient, pleasant, and attentive without being the least bit overbearing. When we asked for queso fundido for our app and the molcajete for two, her nod and quick wink suggested we must’ve ordered well (or perhaps just less predictably than the average gringo?)
Chips and a fresh, mild salsa kept us occupied until the app arrived. Queso fundido (above) is basically a dressed-up melted cheese dip, and as far as such things go, it definitely satisfied. The cheese was tangy and perhaps tinged with garlic (think Mexican fondue), and the generous quantities of chorizo spiced it up nicely. When it arrived, the large portion size prompted us to agree that we weren’t going to eat it all for fear of not being able to stomach the main course. That turned out to be a tough promise to keep…
…and then ¡holy molcajete!
The name of this dish refers to the stone pot it comes in… you can barely see it in the photo, but it’s under there. It’s been heated up to keep the food warm, and filled with a staggering assortment of vegetables and proteins, including nopales (cactus), onions, jalapenos, beef, ham, chicken, chorizo, and several large shrimp. A plate with beans, rice, guacamole, and lettuce accompanied, as did some fantastic warm, homemade tortillas. Seasonings on all were nicely (but not aggressively) spicy and the properly cooked shrimp and moist chicken were the standouts among a nice range of options. As the photos adequately suggests, portions were generous and doggie bags were a must.
While there are certainly meat-free dishes, strict vegetarians should be wary (as with most Mexican restaurants) – even meat-free options often include lard, chicken broth, or the like. Pescetarians should be able to find contentment in Karla’s reasonably large seafood offering. Regardless of diet, its unlikely that a dining duo would leave with a tab much larger than our $26 bill.
Karla also offers a popular $6.99 daily special that comes with soup, various weekend specials, and is open for breakfast.