The conference Thursday went as planned and about 5:45 p.m. I was free of my suit and free to do my own thing. Having “virtually” scoped out Phoenix in advance online, I had decided that I would sample what is called one of the greatest neighborhood Sonoran (Mexican) restaurants. It would be a 2.3-mile hike, but I felt up for the adventure. What I couldn’t anticipate was how rapid the change from neighborhood to neighborhood. I walked east on Jefferson Street past Chase Field ~ where, if I were a baseball fan I would have gone to see the Cubs visiting the Diamondbacks ~ and proceeded south on 7th Street. After passing Chase Field and descending the 7th Street “bridge” (it crosses railroad tracks), without any transition I exited the city center to find myself in a heavy industrial area. The inventory of various companies ~ huge hydraulic cylinders, pipes, slaps of metal, bricks and the like ~ lines the roadway. Trudging along I next passed used car lots and abandoned service stations.
About thirty minutes in my walk I finally reached East Mohave Street, which would lead me to Carolina’s Mexican Food Restaurant. With my right turn onto Mohave, I was suddenly in a residential neighborhood most kindly described as low income. And in the early evening, was eerily quiet. Within this neighborhood’s five or six blocks, only three children were outside, riding their bikes. Various homes’ windows were decorated with those wrought iron bars that despite all artistic efforts never truly look ornamental. One resident, maybe in a moment of levity, had squished yellow rubber duckies between the bars on one window. I got a chuckle out of that. By now I was trudging along, when I spied a restaurant ~ an abandoned restaurant ~ to my right. I was worried. I had passed numerous homes that had been bought up by the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (planes now fly above and parallel to Mohave Street) and I wondered if Carolina’s had met the same fate. But it was at the wrong address. I breathed a sigh of relief and in within a few more steps spotted Carolina’s just ahead.
I will never recommend Carolina’s to anyone who doesn’t have a sense of adventure in sampling the local cuisine. The building that houses Carolina’s was probably built long before I was born. Stripping the paint from its walls would be the equivalent of a vertical archeological dig. The menu is simple. Almost everything comes with a homemade tortilla with the diameter of a Stetson. It serves good, solid food of the neighborhood. I chose a “burro,” which is known elsewhere as a burrito, filled with chorizo, beans, cheese and potatoes. Not only is it the closest thing to a self-contained meal, it is very good. Worth the walk. (Of course, I justified eating this monster because I walked.) So, not only did I find a good, local, ethic restaurant, I had one heck of an adventure in walking there.