As any real foodie knows, the less restaurant-y a place looks, odds are it’s going to have life-changing flavor. This was definitely the case at gas station-turned-restaurant Carmelita’s Mexican Food in Benton.
Driving up, you see the gas pump stalls and the former logo of what the structure once represented, but where people once went to refuel is now shaded parking as you either dine or take out. Covering the windows are a glimpse of what you’ll find inside with photos of best-selling dishes such as tamales, nachos, enchiladas, burritos and more. Today’s subject is, of course, tacos.
Walking up to the counter, the taco/burrito/side station is laid out for the customers to see and watch as each plate is prepared. My eyes were immediately drawn to the shredded chicken as opposed to the sliced or cubed chicken commonly found at taco-serving restaurants. There’s something homey and comforting about chunky shredded chicken, so I went for it.
The chicken was loaded onto a double layer of house-made corn tortillas – which, by the way, were still steaming as they were being loaded up with the gorgeous goodies. I was asked if I wanted cheese on top to which I definitely said yes and almost drooled as the shredded cheese was sprinkled on top, instantly melting against the hot chicken and steaming tortillas. The choice of either hot or mild sauce is given, and call me Hannah Montana because I like the best of both worlds. Onion and cilantro was next on the assembly line, and I’m sure many find the cilantro to be the missing piece on their taco, but I was perfectly content with just the chopped onion.
Not to be dramatic, but I almost cried at seeing the finished product. Fluffy yellow corn tortillas, shredded chicken marinated in a special blend of spices and broth, and the completely melted cheese that I knew was going to make a string when I took a bite.
My choice of adding both the hot and mild sauce was undoubtedly a good one as I felt like I got a different taste with each bite. The shredded chicken was so tender and with the sauces, it was a game changer in my history with tacos.
If you’re ever driving down Military Road and feel like having the best chicken taco of your life, look for the gas-less “Gulf” station and pull right in.