I know this isn't new information for those of you who live in the Salt Lake City area, but here in Utah County, people always wonder where we go for Mexican food. The truth is, we don't have anything that great nearby. We may have some "okays" or "likes" that I have not yet blogged about, but for that deep, traditional, sit-down, Mexican food, we have naughta. We love Red Iguana so much, that we prefer to wait or plan for a trip to Salt Lake rather than settle for something less. They are a clean, well-run, experienced business, and it is worth the drive. In fact, we don't mind the doable distance, because it keeps it special.
Mark used to go here as a kid when his family came through Salt Lake from Tooele. I went here for the first time as a young adult with my family. Mark and I used to go here during our dating years in Salt Lake and we hope to pass it down to our children. :)
Chips with hot salsa.
We have friends and family in almost all areas of Utah, so if there happens to be a special occasion that catches us passing by Salt Lake, Red Iguana is the first place that comes to mind. It has the easiest accessibility, right off the freeway without really having to go into the city, and it's familiar and busy enough to feel comfortable taking our children. Since we usually have our 2 and 4 yr old with us, we always plan to go during the slower hours, which is still pretty busy, but not as long of a wait.
This is a traditional soup made with hominy, pork, and plenty of herbs and spices. It was accompanied with a crisp tortilla, shredded cabbage, dried oregano, cilantro, and onions. It was very spicy hot. That good kind of spicy hot that comes out your ears and clears your sinuses. Most restaurants tone down the heat for Utahns, but I appreciate when they don't. I feel like it strengthens my bowels, lol.
Horchata (w/ refill) $2.10
There's my usual horchata. It helps cool down the heat when needed.
Encurtidos $8.75 :: Pickled jalapenos filled with shrimp and queso fresco, dipped in egg batter, fried and topped w/ salsa española, served with guacamole.
I love pickled, vinegary food, so I had been wanting to try these encurtidos for awhile. Very tasty indeed. One of the peppers was particularly hot, so again, heat out the ears and could have been the hottest thing I've ever eaten. Don't hesitate though, the heat passes after a few minutes and creates an experience rather than just simply eating something. Spicy heat can accompany and elevate flavors. It can leave you with the best aftertaste. If you don't eat spicy food very often, but would like to start, have a glass of milk nearby or a side of sour cream to cool your palate.
The following dishes were featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, so we decided to try them.
P.S.-This post consists of two separate visits.
Enmoladas $9.30 :: Three corn tortillas folded into triangles and filled with refried beans, topped with mole negro, sprinkled with a blend of queso fresco and cotija, topped w/ pickled onions.
Red Iguana specializes in several mole (MO-leh) sauces. Watch the DDD video below to truly appreciate what they do. We learned on the video that to get a good taste of the flavors of a mole, order the enmoladas. That's exactly what I ordered and I LOVED it. I had already tried the mole negro, so I requested the Mole Verde (made w/ avocados) and the Mole Pablano (made w/ bananas, sesame seeds, and ancho chiles). I was happy to see how beautiful the dish was with those two mole sauces, and you can see in the picture that they don't skimp on the sauce. Read more about the moles and other dishes on their menu HERE.
Puntas de Filete a la Norteña $15.85 :: Top sirloin tips sautéed with bacon, jalapeño strips, onions and fresh tomatoes, served atop the almond mole. Served w/ tortillas, beans, and rice.
Mark loved this dish and placed it on his regular line-up of dishes to order.
Tacos Don Ramon $9.90 :: Three crisp corn tacos filled with top sirloin tips, grilled with pork chorizo, garnished with lettuce and queso cotija.
These were very good tacos. I mean, they grill the tortillas in chorizo fat, hel-lo. A lot of incredible flavors goin' on.
I'd be willing to bet that this is one of the best Mexican restaurants in the nation.
Pan de Tres Leches $4.50
We, and many people we know, occasionally go on special dates to Salt Lake City, so this is a place we highly, highly recommend. We like to take our children here after doing something fun in the city. P.S. The "Taste of Red Iguana" at the City Creek Food Court just won't cut it. Stick with the full experience of either of these two locations.
Read more about Red Iguana's history HERE.