Taqueria El Carnaval – Placerville

“Salsa has now passed ketchup as America’s favorite condiment. Isn’t that amazing? You know it’s bad when even our vegetables are starting to lose their jobs to Mexico.”

Jay Leno, the “Tonight Show”




Taqueria El Carnaval

Taqueria Carnaval, which is located at 4340-C Golden Center Drive (off Missouri Flat, near McDonald’s and across from Wal-Mart) has recently changed owners and name. And, in celebration of this, on May 5, Cinco de Mayo, they will be holding their grand opening with live music and food specials, an event you really won’t want to miss.

The new owners are three brothers, Jesus, Julio and Manolo Abarca, and the restaurant’s new name is Taqueria El Carnaval. Jesus, who is the chef, and his brother Julio both work in the kitchen at El Carnaval, while Manolo is in charge of the front of the house, as it is called. It is a real family owned restaurant.

I had a chance last week to spend some time talking with Jesus, who everyone seems to call “Chuy.” He has been working in the restaurant business for 20 years, as far away as Chicago, but mostly in northern California.

For the past five years, they were partners with others at La Fiesta Taqueria on East Bidwell in Folsom, where he and his brother Julio worked their magic in the kitchen. La Fiesta, according to everything I have read, is a very highly rated restaurant.

The sign outside Taqueria El Carnaval  says, “New Owners, New Food, New Taste” and the new menu reflects that. The Abarca brothers have expanded the menu to include a greater choice of meats and a greater variety of items. There are not a large number of Mexican restaurants in the area where, in addition to the regular chicken, pork, and beef choices, you can also get tripa (tripe), lengua (tongue), buche (pork stomach) and chorizo (Mexican sausage) on your taco or in your burrito. And, how about a seafood tostada that comes with both camarón (shrimp) and pulpo (octopus). That is just a sample of new things on the menu. There are a lot more.

The three page menu includes quite a list of tacos, taco salads, enchiladas, nachos, tortas, quesadillas, burritos, tostadas, mariscos (complete plates), special plates, combo plates, seafood tostadas, seafood appetizer and soups, including the seven mares and three mares seafood soups, and more. Yes there is also a kids menu and on both Saturday and Sunday they have menudo and pozole.

Drinks include fountain sodas, traditional fresh Mexican drinks, Mexican bottle sodas, fresh squeezed orange and carrot juices and both imported and domestic beers.

The salsa bar has not only several salsas of different spiciness, but also some interesting marinated onions, cactus and peppers, along with jalapenos and radishes. Chips and salsa are complementary with your meal.

If you are looking for something different, they also serve quite a list of Mexican inspired breakfast dishes all day, every day.

Taqueria El Carnaval is open from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m., daily. They not only have a clean, well tended dining room, but a large patio dining area.

Although you order at the counter and then find your table, the servers, who bring your food to you, also constantly come by to make sure everything is good with you. Our fantastic server, Roberto Castillo, is a graduate of El Dorado High School and was working at the Folsom restaurant before they opened here. Even though the restaurant was rapidly filling up as the noon hour approached, he and the rest of the staff made sure everyone was happy and enjoying their meal.

For more information or to make telephone orders, call (530) 344-7246

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.