I’m one of those people who likes to do a lot of research before traveling somewhere. And much of that research involves where to find great food.
One name kept popping up as I investigated the Salt Lake City restaurant scene: Red Iguana.
Red Iguana reportedly serves the best Mexican food in Salt Lake City. I was skeptical since I didn’t think many Mexicans live in SLC. Best compared to what? Azteca? (Not that I don’t enjoy Azteca. But still.) However, my friends Sarah and Damon confirmed that Red Iguana had excellent food, and we made plans to go there for Sunday brunch.
One of Red Iguana’s specialties is mole, a sauce made of dried and fresh chiles, nuts, spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables. Mole is often called Mexico’s national dish. There are seven different varieties of mole on the Red Iguana menu.
I had the huevos motulenos: poached eggs and carnitas with mole amarillo (made with golden raisins, yellow tomatoes, yellow zucchini, chile guajillo and dried seasonal yellow chiles). All of this was topped with big fat pieces of bacon. Every bite was delicious, and the mole amarillo had none of the cloying sweetness that I’ve experienced with other mole sauces in the past.
This photo doesn’t do it justice and actually makes it look kind of gross (poor lighting ruins everything):
I also sampled Sarah’s salmon chimichanga, which was one of the day’s specials. This kind of dish is served all the time in Seattle, but how would it be in a landlocked state? It was great!
My husband ordered the spareribs, which I had never seen offered on any Mexican restaurant menu before. It’s good he got a huge portion because I probably ate a quarter of his meal. The spareribs were incredibly tender. They were sneaky spicy — the heat took awhile to develop on the tongue and hit me when I least expected it. The succulent meat tucked in flour tortillas was a simple pleasure.
My first taste of Salt Lake City’s culinary landscape was utterly delicious and surprising. It made me hungry for more.