Carolina and Manuel
Carolina’s Mexican Food has a long-established reputation of making some of the best Mexican Food in the Southwest. It is a business that began as a dream of Manuel and Carolina Valenzuela in the 1950’s. In the early years, the couple concentrated mostly on making homemade tortillas, burritos, and tamales, selling them out of the back seat of the family car at wrestling matches and to migrant workers in the fields, always making sure the food was fresh and prepared in the traditional way taught to them by their parents. Yet from that meager beginning, their dream became a reality due to a lot of hard work. Manuel and Carolina opened their first restaurant at 105 W. Hilton with their savings of $400, in a building so small that two people holding hands could touch opposite walls.
In 1972, Manuel decided to move to a location that was more accessible and had more square footage to accommodate the rapid growth of the business, located at 1519 East Mohave Street. Manuel Caballeros Valenzuela passed in October 1979, but the business continued to flourish under the hard work of Carolina and members of her family.
From left: Angela, Jennifer, and Josephine
In 1985, the City of Phoenix purchased that property as part of a program of relocating the old neighborhood to make room for Sky Harbor Airport and the growth of Phoenix. Carolina's son Joe started to search for a new location, finding one almost immediately just three blocks west at the northeast corner of 12th Street and Mohave. The grand opening took place on July 4, 1986.
David and Victoria Tiedens
Carolina C. Valenzuela passed in May 2002, but her legacy lives on. Since her passing, the Carolina's brand has expanded by three restaurants (North Phoenix, Peoria, and Mesa) - with a fourth on the way (Glendale). Also, the FIFTH family generation has commenced work with the restaurants. Carolina's Mexican Food continues to serve the best Mexican food in the southwest to thousands of satisfied customers who frequent the Valley locations from all across the state and nation. Thanks to the foundation left by Manuel and Carolina, and continued by four consecutive generations, the best is yet to come!
Joe & his granddaughters: Kashmira & her husband Tyler, Amber & her husband Brian