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Restaurant Review: La Carreta Argentina

The word is out on this South American spot near Bishop Arts. And that word is 'empanadas.'
photography by Kevin Marple

“Best empanadas in Dallas,” locals would whisper about this charming Oak Cliff cafe as if they didn’t want the secret to spread across the Trinity. But that was a few months ago when La Carreta was known as Don Panza and it was located down a lonely stretch of Clarendon Drive. Recently, owners Samuel Garcia and Carolina Rivarola relocated their South American restaurant to a more visible space just a few blocks from the Bishop Arts District, and the secret is out. La Carreta’s empanadas are everything they’re rumored to be: flaky and light, stuffed with savory fillings such as spicy ground beef with hard-boiled egg and olives, spinach and ricotta, and Roquefort and ham. With nine flavors to choose from and only $2 an empanada (or a dozen for $20), we were tempted to make a meal of the empanadas alone. That would have been a smart move. Alas, La Carreta’s meatier offerings proved to be a tough, disappointing lot. Sandwiches, all served on appealing homemade foccacia-like bread, featured overcooked meats from the spicy choripan (an Argentine-style sausage) to a breaded veal steak, leathery and tough. My first tip-off should have been when the waitress asked me if I wanted my churrasco—a 14-ounce cut steak—“medium well or well done.” I flinched and asked for it medium rare. It arrived medium well and overseasoned. Sides of eggplant aggressively marinated in oregano, garlic, and olive oil and bland potato salad didn’t help. I began to wonder if empanadas were all La Carreta had up its gaucho sleeves. On a return visit, I focused on the pizzas. Here, the restaurant lived up to its reputation: dense, chewy pies with nice, crispy crusts. Obviously, someone knows how to bake in the La Carreta kitchen. The Argentina pizza with its mozzarella, ham, and fried eggs—so perfectly cooked that the yolks oozed a little without drenching the pie—might be one of my favorite pizzas in Dallas. Let the whispers begin again.

Get contact information for La Carreta Argentina.