Carmona’s Cocina Mexicana: Profile

By: Andrea Sauer

Agreeing with Eric’s opinion that one should never leave a burrito place hungry, here is another bang for your buck Morgantown restaurant. Nothing on the menu is over $10 and if you aren’t full when you leave, something is wrong. Carmonas is fairly new to this part of West Virginia. I sat down with one of Carmona’s owner’s Sal Carmona himself about his business.  

Name: Sal Carmona – Co-Owner of Carmonas along with sister Rose Carmona

This is the only business that the Carmona’s own. They owned a slightly different place called Carmonas Mexican Restaurant in Buckhannon for nearly 12 years. The big difference between the two locations is that the Buckhannon location was a full service establishment.  The new Morgantown location is a window system where you place your order assembly line style.

Unfortunately, the family had to give up the Buckhannon location about four years ago. Sal Carmona had cancer. It was an extremely difficult decision for the family, but they had to sell the business so that Sal could undergo treatment. Sal is now three years cancer-free and the family is getting back into the food industry.

A big goal for Sal was to simplify things. He knew he could not manage 40 tables and a full bar again after his condition. So, they decided to look into Morgantown. The family still lives in Buckhannon and travels back and forth everyday to come to work. He never left his one goal though.

“I wanted to follow one rule. My one policy. If I can’t serve my food in my own home, I will not serve it to my customers.  I always live by that.”

This thought sparked an idea with Sal. In his attempt to simplify the restaurant he decided to make his own kitchen.

“What we have here is Carmonas Cocina Mexicana, or My Mexican Kitchen. I allow the customers to come into my kitchen and my home. It’s smaller, a little more one-on-one, personal and warm. I want to provide good quality Mexican food. It is NOT another fast food place. It is good Mexican food fast.”

Nothing at Carmonas is prepackaged or frozen. Everything is made on the spot all day long. From the guacamole to the chicken to the chicken chipotle to the cheese sauce.

Sal says that the community is responding fairly well with more students but the slow development of the Suncrest Shopping Plaza is hindering the amount of people who come through the area.

“Many people do not even know we exist. They do not even know that this plaza is here. Once you tell them about the new Kroger Grocery Store, then they realize where we are. Hopefully once more shops go in it will bring in more foot traffic in the area.”

Carmonas is coming up on their 1 year anniversary in the month of March and is hoping to do something special to celebrate year after year.

With a menu bursting with Mexican dishes like quesadillas, supreme nachos, chimichangas, taquitos and tacos Sal has a suggestion for the best buy on the menu.

“The burritos and quesadillas are the biggest sellers but for me the best buy is the taco salad. You get this crispy floury tortilla, filled with your beans and rice and your meat, I prefer the chicken chipotle, and then drizzle it with a bit of the cheese sauce that we make here in the house and then you have your lettuce, sour cream and guacamole which we make all here in the house and I will tell you it’s fabulous.”

All this for about $7.  Talk about a salad.

Many people could easily say that Carmonas is just trying to be like the national Qdoba chain. Sal just shakes his head and assures me that he is not trying to step on Qdoba’s toes. He says he cannot compete with them, but he likes to think that his standards are higher than a giant chain. It really is his kitchen and he cares about his guests.

“Carmonas? That’s my last name and I take that very very personally. If you come in here one day and you are dissatisfied, please let us know. Give us that opportunity to correct it and I guarantee that we will fix it and it will never happen again.”

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7 Responses to Carmona’s Cocina Mexicana: Profile

  1. CoreyCP says:

    Yesss! I was going to comment on Eric’s post about the burritos and ask where a “Carmona’s Review” was but this is great Andrea. I really like the quote about how no one knows they are by the new Kroger’s and that no one knows Carmona’s even exists. Sadly it is so true as any time I mention this bodacious restaurant to anyone they give me a blank stare and immediately ask “What? Where is that?” Hopefully people will read this review and give this place a shot, my personal burrito/mexican oriented dive in Morgantown.

  2. That is my hope as well CP. It really is a remarkable story about this family and I hope that this restaurant is as blossoming as their first restaurant. The food really is top-notch with great service and addicting food. I really do suggest the chipotle chicken. I have not had a chance to try Sal’s taco salad suggestion, but the quesadillas and burritos really are amazing and a true gift to Morgantown!

  3. aarongeiger says:

    I went to Carmona’s for the first time for a business meeting last week. I have to contribute my negative thoughts, since others put forth the positive comments. 1. Don’t have a business meeting or any time of meeting here, period. The room is cramped, and there’s not very much space during lunch. 2. Don’t try to fit four people around a table, especially with those trays; it just ain’t happening. 3. Don’t ask for an itemized receipt for lunch, because they don’t know how to do one. The type of receipt they ended up coming up with made no sense, and caused a lot of problems at work when trying to get reimbursed.

    As a caveat, the lady that was trying to get us the itemized receipt was very, very nice. And we were so stuffed it was hard to get work done afterwards.

  4. Yes, aaron Carmonas may not be the best place to have a business meeting. The tables are tiny and very undersized for the trays. Another down size to the tables is that one cannot really pull up another table either because they are round and that would probably make the problem worse. I did not have to ever get an itemized receipt, but I believe you there. So, if you are not with a huge group (or don’t mind being separated) and you do not need an itemized receipt, Carmonas is still good!

  5. lindsaycobb says:

    Great post Andrea! All the research you did for this post really made it worthwhile. The background information on the owners makes me want to go try out the food and low prices even more. I’ve noticed this place a few times, but have never gone in- I’ll definitely stop by very soon.

  6. Shay Maunz says:

    Ahh, finally some information on this place. I’ve looked at it a dozen times driving around in that plaza, but it never seems to be open when I’m out there, or I’m not thinking of eating when it is open. Going to have to try it out.

  7. Pingback: Ledo’s Pizza: A Farewell to Morgantown Dining « Mountaineats

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