When we heard La Carreta Peruvian Restaurant had moved to a new location, we couldn't wait to stop by.
It had been years since we had last visited La Carreta in its old building at 1605 S. State St. in Orem.
The worn-down exterior and spare interior of the aging white restaurant didn't affect the quality of the food, but we have to admit that dishes instantly looked tastier in La Carreta's new -- and substantially more upscale -- digs at 340 E. 1200 South in Orem.
While the Peruvian restaurant's previous home could have been euphemistically described as "cozy," the dining room at the new location is spacious and welcoming. Diners have their pick of a table or booth, and there is even a room for private parties.
The Andes-inspired décor, with stone-covered walls, mountain murals and stuffed llamas, is a definite improvement over the previous location as well.
Despite the noticeable aesthetic improvements to the La Carreta dining experience, the menu features the same dishes that lured diners to the restaurant's previous location -- and it's one thing we're glad management didn't change.
On a recent visit, we tried the house special, Bisteak a la Carreta. A grapefruit marinade gave the thin steak in the dish a memorable flavor and went well over the sides of rice and french fries. The accompanying house salad was iceberg lettuce scattered with a half-dozen tomato chunks, and frankly could have used a few more ingredients.
Although the house special was fine, we didn't think it was the best La Carreta had to offer.
Artfully prepared and generously portioned, the Jalea de Pescado was a feast for the eyes and the stomach. The breaded trident filet and fried squid tasted delicious with the perfectly fried potatoes and refreshing lime salad that came with the dish. And the topping of shrimp was significantly more than we expected from a mere garnish.
The Saltado Mixto was another favorite, a smattering of beef, chicken and shrimp served atop a bed of french fries, rice, sautéed tomatoes and onions. We usually prefer our fries with ketchup only, but the tasty dish had us wondering what else we could pile atop the high-calorie treat.
Another plus: Both the Jalea de Pescado and Saltado Mixto were priced lower than we're used to paying for dishes with seafood.
Our server recommended the Arroz Con Pollo, a dish that we'll definitely order again. The bright cilantro rice, served with tender chicken, was so pretty that we wanted to admire our dish a minute before digging in.
As it turns out, we had more than a minute to consider the dish's merits, since our entrees were brought out one at a time instead of all at once. We didn't really mind, though, because the service was generally quick and friendly from start to finish.
Our only complaints about La Carreta were the music (a bit too loud) and the windows (blinds would reduce the glare).
Both problems can probably be attributed to the restaurant's recent move -- a good thing no matter how you look at it.