Carthage has a gluttony of fast-food chains and buffet restaurants where a person can eat their weight in American food, seafood, and Chinese selections. Otherwise, there's nothing in between for rare times I feel like eating out, except tucked-away small eateries necessitating making a run for the border-and we're not talking Taco Bell!
Numerous tienditas have sprung up all over town, serving the booming Hispanic population. My favorite is called La Tiendita on the corner of River and Chestnut and across from Carter's Park. It's a smaller market, but on weekends they run a restaurant off to the side with authentic Mexican selections and atmosphere. Choices are limited, but you can't go wrong with soft-shell tacos for $1 or the gargantuan-sized burrito loaded with shredded beef, rice, and all the trimmings for $3.50.
Limes are great for helping take the bite out of the fiery picante sauce. A reach-in cooler is stocked with a selection of soft drinks and juices, and there are even more choices in the store part. If available, I highly recommend a glass of the Guatemalan favorite horchata, a sweet blend of milk and rice and flavored with spices or peanut butter. Leaving here stuffed for about $5 is well worth avoiding typical Mexican fast-food places.
Mauricio's is a full-service restaurant at 129 Main with more than 125 choices on the bilingual menu, which are ordered by the number; plates range from $3 to $12. They've worked hard to attract the downtown lunch crowd with widespread advertisements and even accepting credit cards. Unfortunately, I think food has been highly inconsistent, depending on whether kitchen staff is Mexican, Guatemalan, or Salvadoran for the day, but local Caucasians, not knowing any better, rave about this place.
Guerrero Supermercado is on the corner of 4th Street and Lyon, off the square, and certainly offers an interesting look around. Colorful piñatas dangle from ceiling along with clothing and other treasures from home. The Hispanic community is so dyed-in-the-wool with tradition and loyalty, even Coca-Cola and Pepsi products are imported from Mexico, with thick glass bottles that are labeled in Spanish. Tropical fruit, as well as standard produce is better and less expensive than anywhere in town, but my most common purchases are phone cards specialized for Latin American countries; $5 for 55-minutes when calling the Dominican Republic.
It's been a pleasure watching the owners start from a small storefront and develop into this larger successful location. They've since obtained a liquor license for satisfying thirsts for cervezas (beer) at lower cost and added a butcher shop with meats and seafood cut to order. Aisles are stocked with all the fixings for traditional meals, including fresh spices and seasonings that rival the new bakery for dominating aromas. Pan Dulces (sweet breads) are traveler's best purchase and come in large forms of biscuits, cakes, cookies, and pastries laced with fillings and sugar-spiced toppings at three for $1. Advertisements and booths with tables suggest that there's a restaurant inside, but it has yet to actually get off the ground.